FORT MILL, S.C. — The Charlotte Knights scored a run in the bottom of the eighth inning to tie and another in the bottom of the ninth for a 3-2 win over the Gwinnett Braves at Knights’ Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The G-Braves took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning, but could not hold off the first-place Knights.
With Anthony Varvaro in to pitch, Dan Johnson delivered a one-out single to center. Connor Jackson hit a groundball to shallow short, and new G-Braves shortstop Brian Friday had trouble getting the ball out of his glove. The miscue prevented Gwinnett from getting the lead runner on a potential double play. Friday threw out Jackson at first, but Johnson was safe at second. After a walk by Dallas McPherson, Hector Gimenez blooped a single behind third, out of the reach of the Braves’ infield, as the hit scored Johnson from second, tying the game 2-2.
The G-Braves failed to score in the top of the ninth. Then, Tyler Kuhn drew a one-out walk off Varvaro and moved to third on a bloop single to center by Drew Garcia. The G-Braves called in Andy Russell from the bullpen and he gave up a soft single to right to Brent Morel, which scored Kuhn from third with the game-winner.
The Knights opened the game with a run off Gwinnett starter Julio Teheran in the bottom of the first. Teheran walked Garcia with one out and Johnson followed with a single to center moving Garcia to second. Connor Jackson extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a double off the wall in left. The hit scored Garcia from second and put the Knights up 1-0 after one.
However, in the top of the second, hot hitting Stefan Gartrell (16) hit a solo homer to left off Charlotte starter Scott Carroll to tie the game, 1-1.
In the top of the fourth, Ernesto Mejia (22) pounded a solo blast to center putting the G-Braves ahead, 2-1. Unfortunately, Gwinnett would only get one more hit the rest of the game, a single to center by J.C. Boscan in the fifth.
Varvaro (0-1) worked 1.1 innings for the loss, as he gave up three hits, two earned runs, two walks and two strikeouts. Russell, gave up the winning hit to Morel, was credited with no innings and one hit. Teheran started the game and worked 5.0 innings with three hits, one earned run, five walks and two strikeouts and was in line for the win. Dusty Hughes pitched a scoreless sixth inning with one hit, one walk and one strikeout and Cole McCurry worked a scoreless seventh with one strikeout.
Former Clemson pitcher Daniel Moskos (2-2) got the win going 1.1 innings with one walk, while Carroll worked six innings in the start with four hits and two earned runs, two walks and four strikeouts. Shane Lindsay pitched 1.2 innings of relief with one walk and one strikeout.
The second-inning homer by Gartrell extended his hitting streak to nine games, a season high for him. He finished 1-for-4. The 22nd homer by Mejia moved him into third place in the league behind Charlotte’s Dan Johnson (23) and Toledo’s Brad Eldred (24). It was also Mejia’s 76th RBI, 121st hit and 52nd extra base hit, topping in the International League in all three categories.
For the Knights, Jackson and Johnson were each 2-for-3.
The G-Braves (50-60) and Knights (62-48) continue their four-game series Monday night at Knights’ Stadium with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Left-hander Sean Gilmartin (5-8, 3.54 in Mississippi), the Braves top draft pick in 2011, will make his AAA debut against the Knights right-hander Charlie Shirek (9-4, 3.68).