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Charlotte Knights hold early lead

By Seth Lakso
Correspondent

The Knights finally gave Charlie Leesman some run support on Friday night after watching the lefty go 0-2 in his first five starts despite an earned run average of just 2.18.

The southpaw rewarded his mates with eight shutout innings against the Buffalo Bison in a 5-3 win for Charlotte in game one of a four-game series in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,308 at BB&T BallPark.

Matched up against former Toronto Blue Jays All-Star Ricky Romero, Leesman was more than up to the task, scattering four hits, while striking out a season-high nine on his way to the elusive ‘W’.

“It feels good to get that first win,” said Leesman, who lowered his ERA to 1.70. “It was a good outing. I got some great defense behind me. It’s nice to get that win on a night like tonight.”

The 27-year spoke after the game about some mechanical adjustments that he’d been working on that paid dividends.

“I’ve just been trying to fine-tune some things,” he said. “I think keeping along with that, I was able to throw all of my pitches a little bit better tonight.”

Leesman’s lasted at least five innings in all six of his Class AAA starts this season, while never allowing more than three earned runs. On Friday, he threw 72 of his 108 pitches for strikes.

“I just go out trying to have fun,” he said. “I throw as many strikes as I can and try to test hitters. Sometimes you can get caught up working around guys a bit, but I’ve come to the realization that you should just try to throw your best stuff to everyone and see if they can hit it.”

Both Josh Phegley and Tyler Saladino hit home runs off Romero to help end the lefty’s night after three innings and five earned runs.

Asked if his team had felt any kind of pressure to put up some runs for Leesman, Knights manager Joel Skinner said, “We don’t get too caught up in that. We haven’t scored a lot of runs, period. That’s just the reality. It’s just nice for Charlie to go out and pitch the way he did tonight.”

Dylan Axelrod (1-3, 6.11) will face Kyle Drabek (2-2, 4.85) on Saturday.

SOUTH ATLANTIC

Hagerstown 5, Hickory 2: The host Crawdads’ loss gave the Suns a four-game sweep over their Northern Division rivals, while also extending the Crawdads’ losing streak to six.

Kannapolis: The Intimidators and Lakewood BlueClaws were fogged out with the BlueClaws ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth. The game will not be made up and stats will not count.

Buffaloabrhbi
Mastroianni cf4010
Gose rf4121
Pillar lf4120
Johnson 1b3111
Goedert 3b4021
Carroll dh3000
Goins 2b3000
Nickeas c3000
Diaz ss3000
-Kawasaki ss0000
Totals31383

Charlotteabrhbi
Hernandez rf5120
Sanchez 2b2100
Danks cf3011
Phegley c3111
Wilkins dh4000
Black 1b4120
Liddi 3b4010
Saladino ss3112
Mitchell lf3010
Totals31594

Buffalo000000003381
Charlotte20300000X590

E — Romero. LOB–Buffalo 3, Charlotte 9. 2B–Hernandez, Black, Johnson. HR—Phegley, Saladino, Gose. CS—Gose, Mitchell.

BuffaloIPHRERBBSO
Romero L, 0-13.055553
Rasmussen2.010012
Stilson2.030011
Korecky1.000000

CharlotteIPHRERBBSO
Leesman W, 1-28.040029
Boggs0.143300
Guerra S, 30.200000

WP- Romero, Leesman. T-2:44. A-10,308.

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