Gwinnett Braves top Charlotte for sixth straight victory

LAWRENCEVILLE — The Gwinnett Braves continued to pound away on the Charlotte Knights on Sunday, scoring eight runs on 13 hits to claim an 8-4 victory at Coolray Field.

Gwinnett extended its winning streak to six games with its fourth straight win over the Knights.

Things didn’t get off to a great start for the G-Braves, as Charlotte jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. With one out, Gwinnett starter Zach Stewart walked Carlos Sanchez and Hector Gimenez, putting runners on first and second. After a ground out and a wild pitch allowed Sanchez to score, Andy Wilkins belted a two-run home run to center to give Charlotte the early lead.

Former G-Brave Tommy Hanson, making his first start since joining Charlotte (6-11), stymied his old club through the first three innings of the game. Hanson threw three hitless frames, but was touched up in the bottom of the fourth. Tommy La Stella led off with a single to center and Ernesto Mejia clubbed his seventh home run of the season, cutting the deficit to 3-2.

Gwinnett (10-6) continued to pour it on in the fifth and sixth innings. In the fifth, Tyler Greene singled and scored on an RBI triple by Jose Constanza, tying the score at 3-3. Constanza then scored on an RBI double by La Stella, giving the G-Braves their first lead of the contest at 4-3.

The G-Braves put the game out of reach with four runs in the sixth. Steve Lerud reached base on a one-out single, advanced to second on a single by Greene and scored on a Constanza single. Todd Cunningham plated Greene with a sacrifice fly, while La Stella and Mejia added RBI hits to push the lead to 8-3.

Stewart (W, 1-0), a member of the Charlotte rotation in 2013, earned the win against his former club. He worked 6.0 innings with three runs on four hits, three walks and four strikeouts. Wirfin Obispo and Ryan Buchter finished off the contest with three innings of one-run relief. Obispo tossed 1.0 scoreless inning with two strikeouts, while Buchter added 2.0 innings with a run on two hits and three strikeouts.

Hanson (L, 0-1) took the loss, allowing four runs on four hits in 4.0 innings. He walked three batters and struck out one.

Offensively, La Stella led the G-Braves, going 3-for-5 with a double, two runs and two RBIs. Mejia extended his hitting streak to eight games by going 2-for-3 with three RBIs, and Constanza went 2-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs.

Charlotte was held to six hits on the day. Wilkins finished 1-for-4 with the two-run homer, but the rest of the lineup had just five hits.

The Gwinnett Braves and Charlotte Knights finish their three-game series on Monday night at Coolray Field, first pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Right-hander Cody Martin (1-1, 3.55) will take the ball for the G-Braves as he matches up against left-hander Eric Surkamp (0-2, 7.07) of the Knights.