Saturday, August 23, 2014

Josh Richmond's 11th-inning two-run home run helps Knights walk off on Tides, 5-3

Josh Richmond wanted to make one thing perfectly clear as he walked down the hallway towards the locker room following Saturday night’s Charlotte Knights walk-off win.

“Shaving cream stings real bad!” he said as he beelined for a sink to wash out his eyes.

Properly rinsed, Richmond returned to talk to reporters about his 11th-inning two-run home run that secured the Knights a 5-3 victory over the Norfolk Tides in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,521 at BB&T BallPark.

“I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit and not try to do too much,” said Richmond, who entered the game in the 10th inning for Adam Eaton -- who eventually nailed him with a shaving cream-covered towel during the post-game celebration. 

“I knew if I got one good pitch to hit, that I couldn’t miss it. And, fortunately enough, I got a pitch over the middle and put the barrel on it.”

The home run was Richmond’s second in as many nights, but carried more meaning than his first.

“This was the first time I’ve ever hit a walk-off home run,” Richmond said. “I think I might have hit one in high school, but it was the walk-off-run rule, so nobody really celebrated and it really wasn’t that cool. That one tonight was pretty cool.”

Chien-Ming Wang got the start for the Knights and wound up with a tough-luck no decision after pitching well. The right-hander allowed three runs over seven solid innings, scattering nine hits, while striking out five.

Marcus Semien (3-for-3) knocked in the Knights (60-76) first two runs with a solo home run in the fourth inning and a sacrifice fly in the sixth. The homer was Semien’s 12th this season.

Semien’s sacrifice fly brought home Eaton, who joined the Knights on Saturday on a Major League rehab assignment from the Chicago White Sox. Eaton, who is on the disabled list with an oblique strain, finished the game 2-for-5 with a double to right-center field that just missed leaving the yard.

"It felt good to be out there," Eaton said. "I was happy to be making strong contact again after having not been out there for 14-15 days. It was good to get on base a couple times and score a run that helped get us back in the game.

"The first two at-bats tonight I was kind of taking inventory every time I swung -- just making sure everything was still there," Eaton continued. "Then the last couple at-bats, I was able to take a full swing without any (concerns)."  

Wang cruised through the game’s first two innings, allowing just one hit (a bunt single) and striking out two over 18 pitches – 16 of which were strikes, but ran into trouble, allowing a run in the third and two more in the fourth, before settling back down.

Charlotte pulled even in the seventh inning after Matt Tuiasosopo laced a two-out double to right-center field and then came in to score on Justin Jershele’s (2-for-4, RBI) second single of the afternoon.

Following an Eaton single, Jared Mitchell (0-for-4) laced a ball to right field, but right at Tides outfielder Dariel Alvarez to end the threat. Despite hitting two balls on the button, Mitchell saw his season-long seven-game hitting streak come to an end.

“Josh (Richmond) is a great teammate. He’s a guy that plays with a lot of energy and it’s been nice to see him get some big hits these last two nights,” said Knights manager Joel Skinner. “He spoiled a couple of good pitches and then got one he could hit and put a good swing on it.”

Notes: Eric Surkamp, who was optioned back to Charlotte earlier Saturday morning, tossed two hitless innings of relief to pick up his fourth win of the season with the Knights. ... White Sox No. 9 prospect Chris Beck was placed on the DL (retroactive to 8/21) on Saturday with back spasms. The club is hopeful the right-hander will only miss one start. ... White Sox top prospect Carlos Rodon will make his second start with the Knights on Sunday. He's scheduled to throw five innings, or 75 pitches (whichever comes first). ... Adam Eaton (MLB rehab) is eligible to come off the DL Sunday, but according to the outfielder, he's looking at Tuesday as his most likely return date to the Majors.