The Charlotte Knights defeated the Gwinnett Braves 8-5 on Saturday at Gwinnett Stadium.
The Knights moved to 6-10 on the season while the G-Braves dropped to 5-12.
G-Braves designated hitter Brooks Conrad got things started in the first inning. With two out, Conrad deposited a 2-0 pitch just over the fence in right-center field to put Gwinnett up 1-0. It was the first time that the home team has scored first at Gwinnett Stadium. But the lead was short-lived.
In the third inning, Charlotte second baseman Andy Phillips doubled home Gookie Dawkins and Scott Podsednik to give the Knights a 2-1 advantage. Dawkins led off the frame with a double of his own and Podsednik pushed Dawkins to third on an infield single. G-Braves’ third baseman Van Pope drilled the first pitch he saw Saturday night over the 25-foot stone-wall in left field to tie the game at two. It was his first hit in 15 at bats at the new ballpark.
Charlotte jumped back out in front in the fifth. Andy Phillips reached on a throwing error by G-Braves second baseman J.C. Holt. The next batter, Michael Restovich, took advantage of the miscue and blasted his second homer of the season. The two-run shot put the Knights up 4-2. With two out in the fifth inning, Van Pope doubled to right field and later scored on a RBI single by Reid Gorecki. The play brought the G-Braves’ to within a run of the Knights at 4-3.
In the sixth frame, the Knights padded their lead by with two insurance runs. Andy Phillips picked up his third RBI of the game with his two-out single to center. The next batter, Josh Kroeger doubled home Miguel Negron to make it a 6-3 game. Gwinnett chipped away at the lead in the bottom of the sixth.
After a lead off double by Conrad, Barbaro Canizares drove him in with a single to left field. The single cut the Charlotte lead to 6-4. Once again, the Knights increased their lead, this time in the top of the eighth. Charlotte loaded the bases with a pair of free passes and a hit-by-pitch. After a short delay following a scary play down the left-field line that saw G-Braves left fielder Brian Barton, third baseman Van Pope and shortstop Diory Hernandez collide in chasing a ball into foul territory, the next batter, Gookie Dawkins, singled home Michael Restovich and extended the lead Charlotte lead to 7-5. All three players involved in the collision returned to play. The Knights put the game out of reach one final time in the top of ninth inning.
Charlotte’s Brian Myrow singled in Andy Phillips to make it an 8-5 Charlotte lead. The G-Braves were led by Van Pope and Brooks Conrad, who each homered and had two hits in the loss. Reid Gorecki also finished the night with two hits. Charlotte’s Andy Phillips and Scott Podsednik each collected three hits while Michael Restovich homered in the Knights’ win. Charlotte starter John Van Benschoten picked up his second win of the season and is now 2-1 with a 3.63 ERA. He allowed four earned runs in 5.1 innings to avenge an earlier loss in the season to Gwinnett. Knights’ reliever Jimmy Gobble earned his first save of the season.
Gwinnett starter Kris Medlen allowed two runs in four innings in the no-decision start. Medlen is 2-0 with a 2.04 ERA. Gwinnett reliever Vladimir Nunez was charged with his first loss of the year and is now 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA.
The G-Braves look to avoid the four-game sweep tomorrow in a 2:00 p.m. matinee start. Gwinnett will send RHP Jerome Gamble (0-0, 1.17 ERA) to the mound to face LHP Wes Whisler (1-1, 2.20 ERA) in the series finale.