LAWRENCEVILLE — Bryse Wilson and two Gwinnett Stripers pitchers were good during Tuesday’s game with the Charlotte Knights.
Unfortunately for the Stripers, Knights starter Jordan Guerrero and two relievers were just as good, and for one inning, Daniel Palka and Matt Skole were better.
The two former Georgia Tech standouts came up with extra-base hits, including Skole’s two-run home run, in the top of the seventh to lift Charlotte to a 2-1 win before 1,765 fans at Coolray Field in a game that zipped by in just two hours and 29 minutes.
Gwinnett (26-18) actually outhit the Knights (24-18) 9-5 on the evening, including three hits — two doubles and a triple — by Travis Demeritte, while Wilson threw seven strong innings, allowing just three hits and two runs with no walks and six strikeouts.
But two of those hits came in the seventh, as the two ex-Yellow Jackets provided enough sting for Charlotte to start the Stripers’ seven-game homestand with a loss and drop them a half-game behind Durham for the lead in the International South Division.
“It was a tough go,” said the Winder-Barrow grad Demeritte, who saw his strong of games with a home run end at four straight games, but extended both his hitting streak (10) and on-base streak (23). “We felt like offensively, we executed our strategy. … Obviously the ball didn’t go our way.”
Demeritte was at the heart of the action when Gwinnett took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second lining a triple into the right-field corner and coming home one out later on Pedro Florimon’s RBI ground out to second.
But that was all the Stripers would get off Guerrero (2-4) and delivers Matt Tomshaw and Carson Fulmer despite getting at least one hit in every inning except for the third and eighth. Guerrero scattered six this and one earned run with one walk and four strikeouts over six innings.
Meanwhile, Wilson (2-4) was cruising through his outing, retiring 12 of the first 13 hitters he faced — he hit Paulo Orlando for the only baserunner to interrupt that string — and not giving up a hit until Zack Collins’ lead-off single in the fifth.
But the 21-year-old right-hander got a tough break when he broke Palka’s bat to lead off the top of the seventh, only to have the left-handed outfielder beat the shift and slip the ball inside the third-base bag for a leadoff double.
Rafael Ortega made a nice running catch on Alcedis Escobar’s liner to the gap in right-center to keep Palka at second, but Skole came the plate and sent a high drive into the Charlotte bullpen for a two-run homer that vaulted the Knights into a 2-1 lead.
After not being able to break through against Tomshaw in the bottom of the seventh, the Stripers tried their luck with Fulmer, who came on with one out in the eighth and retired the next four hitters.
But Gwinnett still had one shot when Florimon and Sean Kazmar Jr. came up with two-out singles the bottom of the ninth to put the potential tying and winning runs on base.
However, Fulmer got Luis Marte to bounce out to third to end the game.
The two teams continue the three-game series Wednesday night at 7:05, with left-hande Kolby Allard (3-2, 4.32 ERA) taking the mound for the Stripers against Charlotte lefty Colton Turner (2-1, 4:50 ERA).