Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Charlotte Knights drop seventh straight

Courtesy of Knights Director of PR and Media Relations, Tommy Viola 

(Lawrenceville, GA) – Todd Cunningham’s seventh inning grand slam broke a 2-2 tie and proved to be the difference as the Gwinnett Braves beat the Charlotte Knights 6-3 on Monday in the finale of their three-game series from Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, GA. Gwinnett reliever Mark Lamm (1-1, 3.38) earned the win after pitching a scoreless seventh inning.

Charlotte jumped out to a 2-0 lead on the Braves after the first two innings of Monday’s game. Catcher Josh Phegley ignited the Charlotte offense with an RBI double in the first inning. Phegley had two of Charlotte’s seven hits -- both doubles.

Knights starter Eric Surkamp started and allowed two runs on nine hits over five innings and left with the game tied at 2-2. Surkamp walked two and struck-out six in a no-decision.

Charlotte reliever Ryan Kussmaul (0-2, 6.97) pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning to keep the game tied at 2-2. Kussmaul got into trouble in the seventh inning and the game quickly changed in Gwinnett’s favor.

Tommy La Stella led the seventh inning off with a walk and then Kussmaul allowed back-to-back singles to load the bases for Cunningham. On a 3-1 count, Cunningham launched a grand slam over the right field wall to give Gwinnett a 6-2 lead.

The Knights cut the lead in half in the eighth inning with help from Carlos Sanchez, who hit a sacrifice fly to score Jared Mitchell from third base. It was the only run the Braves bullpen would allow.

Gwinnett closer Juan Jaime came close to allowing a few more runs in the ninth, but he was able to shut the door on the finale. Jaime allowed a single to Andy Wilkins to start the final frame. After back-to-back strikeouts, the Knights loaded the bases with help from Tyler Saladino (single) and Mitchell (walk). Jaime then got Blake Tekotte to fly out to Cunningham in center field to end the game. He earned his fourth save of the year.

The loss was Charlotte’s seventh straight, tying their season high from last season.

The Knights now return home on Tuesday for the opening game of a four-game series with the Durham Bulls. RHP Dylan Axelrod (1-1, 4.50) will start for Charlotte, while RHP Merrill Kelly (3-0, 1.50) will toe the rubber for Durham. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. and first pitch of Tuesday’s opener is set for 7:05 p.m.