Reid Brignac knocked in two runs for Lehigh Valley, including the game-winner in the top of the 11th inning with a solo home run to sour what was otherwise an encouraging performance from the Charlotte Knights on Wednesday.
Brignac’s third home run of the season saddled Charlotte with a 3-2 loss, despite solid pitching from Erik Johnson and Frank Francisco.
Johnson – who entered the season as the White Sox’ No. 2 prospect, according to Baseball America – started in front of a crowd of 8,631 fans at BB&T BallPark for the 11:05 a.m. game, and he didn’t disappoint.
He turned in seven solid innings, allowing two runs, scattering five hits and striking out four. He walked only one and threw 95 pitches, 63 for strikes.
“I felt good,” said Johnson, 24, whose fastball hovered between 87 and 89 mph. “I was throwing my fastball where I wanted and my slider was working.”
He mixed in his change-up more as the game progressed and showed a sharp curve ball.
“(The White Sox) just want me to get back to me being me and attacking the zone with multiple pitches and working ahead,” he said.
After two innings by left-hander Donnie Veal, former Mets closer Frank Francisco, 34, came on to toss a one-two-three ninth. The outing was his sixth since joining the Knights after a stint in Arizona for extended spring training.
In eight innings, Francisco has allowed four hits and has struck out 12. He’s yet to allow an earned run.
“He’s getting the ball every few days now and getting into shape,” Knights manager Joel Skinner said of Francisco. “He’s been a plus.”
After Johnson allowed a run in the second, the Knights countered with one thanks to a two-out RBI double by Tyler Saladino, who leads Charlotte with 18 RBIs.
In the sixth, Brignac knocked in the IronPigs second run with a sacrifice fly.
Just like in the second, Charlotte rallied in the bottom half when Carlos Sanchez (1-for-4), who walked with one out, came around to score from first on Andy Wilkins’ (2-for-5) second double of the afternoon.
Neither team was able to force a run across again until Brignac’s home run off David Purcey (0-2) in the 11th.
Luis Garcia came on to record his sixth save for the IronPigs, who avoided falling to the Knights for the third day in a row. Seth Rosin (1-1) pitched two perfect innings in relief to record the win.
“You just got the feeling that the first team to hit one out was going to win today’s game,” said Skinner. “But (Johnson) went out there and threw seven strong innings. The goal is to get him back on track, that’s all. Today was a step in the right direction.”
Notes: After the game, the Chicago White Sox announced that outfielder Jordan Danks has been reassigned to the Knights. With Conor Gillaspie’s rehab assignment complete, Danks was optioned back to Charlotte to make room on the roster. … With a two-out single in the bottom of the 11th, Carlos Sanchez extended his Knights hitting streak to 10 games. He has reached base in 23 straight. … Knights regular third baseman Matt Davidson missed his fourth straight game with a sore hand.
IronPigs 3, Knights 2 (11)
DP–Lehigh Valley 1, Charlotte 1. LOB–Lehigh Valley 5, Charlotte 4. 2B–Gillies, Henson, Wilkins 2, Saladino. HR—Brignac. SF–Brignac. SB–Henson. CS—Tekotte.
|Rosin W, 1-1||2.0||0||0||0||0||2|
|Garcia S, 6||1.0||1||0||0||0||1|
|Purcey L, 0-2||1.0||1||1||1||0||1|
HBP-Murphy, (by Veal).
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