Saturday, May 24, 2014

Tommy Hanson goes seven strong; Knights do little things well in 3-1 win over Indianapolis

The White Sox organization preaches the importance of situational baseball from the day they draft a player.  

On Saturday, in front of a sold out crowd of 10,359 at BB&T BallPark, the Knights showed that they’ve been listening on their way to a 3-1 win over the Indianapolis Indians.

With the second most home runs (37 in 49 games) in the International League entering the day, it could have easy to sit back and wait for the long ball.

Instead, the Knights scored single runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings on two seperate two-out RBI singles and a sacrifice fly.

The three runs were more than Tommy Hanson (3-4), making his seventh start of the season, would need. The 6-foot-6-inch right-hander lasted a season-high seven innings while surrendering four hits, fanning three and walking one.  

His only blemish came on a first-pitch fastball in the fourth inning that Chris McGuiness ambushed for a solo home run that might still be rolling down Mint Street.

From that point, Hanson would allow just two more Indians to reach base, before giving way to Taylor Thompson and later Maikel Cleto.

“I’ve been working on keeping the ball down and as I went I stopped just trying to throw strikes and focused on working in the bottom of the zone,” said Hanson, who threw 98 pitches (61 strikes). “As the game went on, I got more and more ground balls and better results.

“I felt like I had more in the tank. I threw 100 pitches and still felt like I could go out there and that’s what you’re striving for.

Thompson walked off the mound following the eight having not allowed a hit in his last 6 and 2/3 innings. Cleto exited the ninth after striking out the side with his first save as a Knight in tow.

With two down in the third, Gorkys Hernadez doubled of Indians starter Jake Brigham (1-3) and then scored on a single by Carlos Sanchez to give Charlotte a 1-0 lead.

Jordan Danks doubled to lead off the following inning before Matt Davidson – who possess the most power of anyone on Charlotte’s roster – flied to right in an effort to advance Danks to third.

The ball wasn’t deep enough to accomplish Davidson's goal, but it was a clear sign that he's learning what it takes to play at the next level. 

“Even when it didn’t work out, you saw Davidson try to move the runner over right there and he wound up flying out the right field,” said Knights hitting coach Andy Tomberlin. “He’s trying to hit the ball hard to the right side. That’s the job that we’re all trying to execute.”

Blake Tekotte remedied Davidson's shallow fly with a deep one to right that sent Danks to third and set the table for another two-out RBI situation for Charlotte.

This time, it was Andy Wilkins that came through with the single to right.

“Two-out base hits win a lot of ball games,” said Knights manager Joel Skinner. “You try to put yourself in position to be in those kinds of situations. The Wilkins’ hit was a big one for us. ”

The Knights entered the game hitting .202 with two-out hits with runners is scoring position. By the end of the fourth, they were 2-for-3.

An error and a long single to right off the bat of Hernandez to begin the fifth left runners at the corners for Sanchez, who delivered his second RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly to left.

“It was a pretty clean situational approach tonight,” Tomberlin said. “I don’t know how many times I’ve been able to say that, but I can say that was one tonight and tomorrow we’re looking to repeat it.”

The Knights will look to salvage a split in their four-game series with the Indians at 2:05 p.m. tomorrow when Eric Surkamp (2-2) takes the mound against Casey Sadler (5-1).