Sunday, April 13, 2014

Scott Carroll dominant, as Knights roll over Norfolk

By Seth Lakso, Charlotte Observer Correspondent 

After missing almost all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, Charlotte Knights’ sinkerballer Scott Carroll has been making the most of his opportunities.

The 29-year-old tossed seven shutout innings in the Knights’ 4-0 win over the Norfolk Tides in front of a sellout crowd of 10,200 at BB&T Ballpark on Sunday to improve to 3-0 on the season.

Carroll induced three double plays on the day and faced just one batter over the minimum, scattering three hits and one walk, while striking out two.

“The biggest thing is just letting my defense make the plays behind me to be honest with you,” said Carroll, who has yet to allow an earned run in 19 innings pitched this season.

“I know that’s not the sexiest answer or anything, but I’m a sinkerball pitcher, that’s my forte and I’m going to rely on my defense. They’ve been awesome so far this year.”

The win improved the Knights, who entered Sunday third in the International League’s South Division standings, to 6-5 and clinched Charlotte’s second series win over Norfolk this season.

Veteran reliever Javy Guerra came on in relief of Carroll (76 pitches) to start the eighth and finished the game. The Tides, who, all told, hit into four double plays, sent just 28 batters to the plate.

The Knights, on the other hand, pounded out 10 hits, with Saturday’s hero, Tyler Saladino, leading the way with a 3-for-4 performance. Saladino, who now has five multi-hit games this season, raised his average to a Knights-best .417. 

“I’m just trying to do a better job of paying attention to the pitchers we’re facing, seeing what they’re throwing for strikes and seeing what is going to be the best pitch for me to go up there looking for,” said Saladino, who’s two-run home run was the difference in Saturday’s 4-2 win. 

After having already scored a run in the first inning, Charlotte had Norfolk righthander Suk-min Yoon (L, 0-2) on the ropes in the second when they loaded the bases with no one out. However, a double-play ball off the bat of Gorkys Hernandez and a fly out to center by Hector Gimenez resulted in just one run.

In the fourth inning, a one-out double by Saladino, who then came in to score on a two-out RBI single by Hernandez, stretched Charlotte’s lead to three. They would later add a fourth run in the seventh when Carlos Sanchez scored on a passed ball.

However, Carroll – who admitted to contemplating hanging up his spikes in 2012 when he first injured his arm – was the clear star of the day.

Eight months removed from surgery, the 6-foot-4-inch righty made it back to the mound for 31 innings in 2013 split between Advanced Rookie Bristol and Double-A Birmingham. 

“Pitching last season was still part of my rehab process,” he said. “It wasn’t like I was trying to win a job or anything. I think the whole year was just a learning process. I got to take a step back and really try and hone my craft and figure out what it is that I needed to do to be successful at this next level and, ultimately, to get to the big leagues.”