Knights’ pitchers turned in five one-two-three innings and two more in which they allowed just one hit on Friday night.
Unfortunately, they also tossed two of the uglier innings any of the 10,295 fans at BB&T BallPark have probably ever seen in what ended up being a 16-9 face-palm-inducing loss to the Syracuse Chiefs.
With the White Sox playing on Friday, Deunte Heath – who was the day’s scheduled starter – was held out of the game incase Chicago required his services later this week, leaving the Knights short staffed.
The lack of a safety net loomed large in the fifth inning, when the Knights (38-58) allowed six runs to turn a 5-0 edge into a one-run deficit. It then loomed much larger in the eighth inning when they surrendered a season-worst 10 runs.
The 16 runs allowed was a season-high for Charlotte, who entered the eighth with a 7-6 edge and fell to 0-2 in its four-game series with the Chiefs (57-37).
“We were under the gun with the amount of pitchers we had available tonight,” Knights manager Joel Skinner said. “You hate to see that happen, but we just in a bind there. The guys understand that it’s a bullpen day and when the score gets to a certain point, you (don’t have a choice).
“It’s one game,” Skinner continued. “We play 144. We’ll just move forward.”
In both the fifth and eighth innings, Syracuse first baseman Tyler Moore hit bases-clearing doubles. Moore finished the night 3-for-5 with a season-high six runs knocked in.
In two games against the Knights this season, Moore is now 5-for-10 with a home run and eight RBIs.
Parker Frazier (0-1) began the eighth inning for the Knights having already been stretched two and 1/3 innings and failed to retire a batter before being replaced by Donnie Veal four batters in.
Veal fared worse, allowing the next four Chiefs batters to reach base before recording the inning’s first out. When the dust finally settled, every Syracuse batter had reached base and scored in the eighth except for Steven Souza Jr.
Moore scored twice.
The game began promisingly enough for Charlotte, with Matt Zaleski tossing three scoreless innings and the Knights posting five runs in four innings of Syracuse starter Aaron Laffey, who entered the game leading the IL with 11 wins.
Maikel Cleto came on in relief of Zaleski and was charged with five of the six runs the Chiefs scored in the fifth.
The Knights offense finished with 15 hits – three by Micah Johnson (3-for-5, two RBIs) and Josh Phegley (3-for-5, RBI, R), while the Chiefs finished with 17 – 15 of which came in their two big innings.
“It’s a tough one,” said Johnson. “We play so many games that you can’t really dwell on it because you don’t have time to. We play the next day. It’s not like the NFL where you have time and play once a week, so you think about it for a little bit, but need to get things going again the next day.”