COLUMBUS, Ohio Dan Black knows how to hit home runs. The Purdue University product hit 52 home runs over his last three seasons and has hit two home runs in a game on five occasions over the course of his six-year minor league career. But, on Thursday, the prolific home run hitter did something he’s never done before.
Black launched three home runs, including Charlotte’s first grand slam of the season, and led the Knights to a commanding 18-9 win over the Columbus Clippers in the finale of their four-game series from Huntington Park. The three-home run game was the first by a Knights slugger since Conor Jackson ripped three long balls on June 21, 2012, at Knights Stadium against the Clippers.
A 14th round selection by the White Sox in the 2009 draft, Black was a Southern League All-Star last season during his time with Double-A Birmingham. He hit 17 home runs and drove in 83 runs for the Barons. The year before, the Indianapolis native was the Carolina League’s Most Valuable Player after hitting 17 home runs and driving in 88 runs. In 2011, he hit 18 home runs and drove in a career-high 98 runs. He’s a home run hitter. It showed on Thursday.
In the finale, Black went a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate with a solo home run, a two-run home run, and a grand slam – totaling seven RBIs on the evening. He scored four runs and left the game before he had a chance at a fourth home run. He now has five home runs on the season.
Overall, it was a hit parade for the Knights, who belted out 20 hits – their most in a game since April 8, 2013 at Norfolk when they had 20 hits and scored 21 runs. The Knights, who currently lead the International League in home runs with 51 – had a season-high five on Thursday. Jared Mitchell and Josh Phegley also chipped in with a home run each.
It was also a day to remember for Phegley, who became the third Knights player this season to have four hits in a game (Black and Carlos Sanchez are the others). Phegley finished the game 4-for-6 with the home run, three RBIs, and three runs scored.
Mitchell reached base for the 17th straight road game and finished the night 1-for-4 with the home run – his fourth of the year. Carlos Sanchez went 3-for-5 with a triple, three runs scored, and three RBIs and is now hitting a team-high .301 on the season.
The winning pitcher on Thursday was Charlotte reliever Mitchell Boggs (2-2, 8.51) who gave up just one hit over 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Donnie Veal did not allow a run over three innings.
Charlotte starter Tommy Hanson allowed seven runs on eight hits over 2 2/3 innings and did not factor in the decision. Hanson allowed five of his seven runs in the third inning. Columbus starter Gabriel Arias (0-2, 5.73) was the losing pitcher. He allowed nine runs (three earned) over 4 1/3 innings.
The Knights earned a four-game series split with the Clippers.
Next up for the Knights are the Toledo Mud Hens. Charlotte will now make the trek to Toledo and open up a four-game series on Friday. LHP Eric Surkamp (2-3, 5.47) gets the start for Charlotte in the opener, while Toledo will give the ball to LHP Kyle Lobstein (3-5, 3.71).
Crawdads 4, Drive 2: Evan Van Hoosier finished 3-for-5 with an RBI, while Travis Demeritte was 2-for-4 with a double and 2 RBIs as visiting Hickory beat Greenville.
Thursday’s box score
E — Johnson. DP–CHA: 3. LOB–CHA: 9, COL: 5. 2B–Danks, Phegley, Johnson, Urshela, Rohlinger, Ciriaco, Ramirez. 3B–Sanchez, Ramirez. HR—Black 3, Mitchell, Phegley, Rohlinger, Ciriaco.
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