Saturday, May 16, 2015

Micah Johnson bookends Charlotte Knights 2-1 walk-off win over Syracuse Chiefs

Micah Johnson hit the first pitch the Syracuse Chiefs threw over the fence for a home run and the last one down the leftfield line for a double to give the Charlotte Knights a 2-1 walk-off win on Saturday.

Johnson’s bookend performance overshadowed an excellent night of work from Knights’ (20-15) pitchers Kyle Drabek and Eric Surkamp, who combined to two-hit the Chiefs (16-20).

Johnson stepped to the plate in the first inning sitting fastball, got one, and sent his first home run of the season over the leftfield wall, becoming the first Knights player to accomplish such a feat since Jared Mitchell did it on Aug. 9 of 2014. 

The score stayed 1-0 in favor of Charlotte until the sixth inning when the Chiefs managed their first hit of the night off Drabek, when Emmanel Burriss lined a sharp one-out single through the hole between first and second.

Tony Gwynn Jr. followed with a bloop double to put runners at second and third with one down and Darin Mastroianni brought home Syracuse's lone run of the game with a fielder's choice, tying things at 1-1.

The sixth was the last inning of work for Drabek, whose final line read: 5IP, 1R, 2H, 2BB, 2K – 80 pitches (47 strikes). Surkamp then came on in relief and held the Chiefs hitless over the next three frames to set the table for Johnson’s heroics.

Kevan Smith led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk, was sacrificed to second, and then came in to score on a two-strike double off lefty-specialist Rich Hill by Johnson, who has gone 2-for-7 with three RBI, two walks and two stolen bases since rejoining the Knights two games ago.

“Rich Hill is too hard to hit man. That was just luck. I’ve seen him before last year. He threw me a curveball tonight that I pretty much thought was going to hit me in the face, so (on the next pitch) I just tickled the ball down the line.” – Knights’ second baseman Micah Johnson.

Worth mentioning
On Johnson’s walk-off double, both he and Knights’ catcher Kevan Smith came up lame. Johnson rolled his ankle on second base as he watched the play at the plate, where Smith slid in safe, while also rolling his ankle. (nutty, right?) Johnson appeared to be fine after the game, while Smith is likely day-to-day. … The walk-off win was the Knight’s fourth this season, matching their total from all of 2014. … In his last three starts, Drabek has gone 0-1 despite allowing just two runs on five hits over 17 innings. In those starts, Drabek -- who was optioned to the Knights by the Chicago White Sox back on April 24 -- has walked just four and struck out 15. … According to reports, former Charlotte Knights outfielder Jared Mitchell, who was released by the White Sox last week, has signed a deal with the Angels and will be assigned to their Class AA affiliate. Mitchell was a former first-round pick by the White Sox. He was just 2-for-40 with Charlotte at the time of his release. ... Prior to Saturday's game, the Knights activated right-hander Matt Lindstrom from the Disabled List. ... In a collision of former Charlotte Knights, Carlos Sanchez went 1-for-4 in his return to the White Sox lineup on Friday in Oakland in a game that was started by Carlos Rodon and and featured a home run from Josh Phegley. ... The sellout crowd of 10,379 was the Knights' 11th in 21 openings at BB&T Ballpark this season.

What's next?
The Knights will play the final game of their three-game series with the Chiefs at BB&T Ballpark on Sunday at 2:05 p.m. RHP Chris Beck (2-1, 3.90) will take the mound for the Knights across from RHP Bruce Billings (1-2, 3.82).