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Micah Johnson spices up Knights win

By Seth Lakso
Correspondent
 0521Knightssanchez
Robert Lahser - rlahser@charlotteobserver.com
Charlotte’s Josh Phegley, right, is welcomed home by teammates after his sixth-inning home run Tuesday against Norfolk.

Micah Johnson is going to be fun to watch.

Making his BB&T BallPark debut, Charlotte’s newest addition finished the night 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, a run scored and an RBI in the Knights’ 4-3 win against the Norfolk Tides on Tuesday night.

Johnson, who is ranked by MLB.com as the White Sox No. 3 prospect, was called up from Class AA Birmingham on May 13 and had appeared in six games before Tuesday.

In Norfolk on Sunday, his home-to-first time on a ground ball to second was recorded as 3.69 seconds by a scout. There are scouts who go their entire careers without clocking a time better than 3.8 seconds.

Johnson, 23, a switch hitter, put that speed on display for the 9,510 in attendance in the fifth inning Tuesday, when he turned an RBI ground ball up the middle into a double.

“Obviously, he’s a top of the lineup type of guy with his abilities,” Knights manager Joel Skinner said of Johnson, who stole 84 bases last season.

“When he gets on base, he’s a guy that creates havoc. He’s aggressive. Tonight you saw the ground-ball single he hit up the middle that turned into a double.”

Equally impressive was the way Johnson handled the at-bat against Norfolk ace – and Baltimore Orioles No. 2 prospect – Kevin Gausman (0-2, 2.90 ERA).

Johnson came to the plate with two outs, Blake Tekotte on second and the Knights trailing 3-0. Johnson quickly fell behind 0-2.

He fouled the next pitch off and took the next two to even the count. Gauseman’s next pitch was a 96-mph fastball up and in and Johnson barely fouled it off.

“He kept trying to throw fastballs inside and I was just trying to battle at that point,” he said. “He throws pretty hard, so I was trying to make contact, foul off the tough ones and then hopefully get a pitch I could handle.”

After running the count full, Johnson sent another fastball right back up the middle to get the Knights on the board.

The hit led to the first of four runs Charlotte would score in the inning, including Josh Phegley’s two-run home run.

After revealing his home-to-first time, Johnson had some fun with reporters after the game, saying, “I don’t really know what that means or anything.”

He knows what it means and so do the White Sox.

Norfolkabrhbi
Weeks dh4000
Jesus ss4020
Phelps lf4110
Peguero rf4120
Wallace 1b3000
Lonbardozzi 2b4012
Britton 3b4000
Ward c3121
Borbon cf3000
Totals33383

Charlotteabrhbi
Johnson 2b3121
Sanchez ss4111
Phegley c3112
Danks cf4000
Davidson 3b4000
Hernandez rf4000
Tekotte dh3120
Black 1b2000
Mitchell2000
Totals29464

Norfolk001200000380
Charlotte00004000X460

DP–Charlotte 1. LOB–Norfolk 6, Charlotte 5. 2B–Jesus, Tekotte, Johnson. HR—Ward, Phegley. CS—Lombardozzi, Mitchell. PO—Lombardozzi, Mitchell.

NorfolkIPHRERBBSO
Gausman L, 0-25.064416
Meek1.000001
Cruz1.000021
Bell1.000012

CharlotteIPHRERBBSO
Surkamp W, 2-26.073308
Santos1.000022
Heath0.210000
Veal S, 11.100000

WP-Bell. HBP-Wallace (by Veal). T-2:55. A-9,510.

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