The Charlotte Knights have spent the first two months of the season working towards a game like the one they nearly put together at BB&T BallPark on Thursday.
Charlotte played flawless defense, received a gem of a performance from starter Charlie Leesman, and what wound up being just enough offense to snap a three-game slide against the Red Wings.
Three quarters of the way through a stretch of 23 games in 22 days, the Knights pushed back any thoughts of fatigue for eight innings to take a 7-0 lead over Rochester in front of a sellout crowd of 10,222.
Those who stuck around for the final where rewarded by Maikel Cleto, who allowed five consecutive singles to begin the ninth before a three-run home run made it a 7-6 game.
After walking off the mound to a smattering of boos, Donnie Veal picked up his teammate by retiring the next three Red Wings to preserve the win and record his third save.
“There were a lot of good things that happened tonight, especially considering that we were coming off the double-header,” Knights skipper Joel Skinner said. “That Charlie was able to eat up some innings for us was a good thing. We played some real nice defense. That last inning, that’s just baseball.”
Leesman (2-5) had his cutter, curve and changeup all working for eight mellow innings, Tyler Saladino and Carlos Sanchez went back-and-forth trying to one-up the other’s web-gem.
The Knights (21-40) stayed on the tips of their toes thanks to Leesman, who worked quickly, scattering three hits and striking out seven, while recording 14 groundouts to outduel a former Arizona Fall League teammate in Trevor May (5-4), who fanned nine in six innings.
“I know May really well,” Leesman said. “Congrats for him, too. He still pitched a great game tonight. But you always want to do better than him.”
Kannapolis 5, Asheville 3: Hunter Jones led off the game with his first of two home runs (4), and the Intimidators survived a close call in the ninth inning, holding on for a road win over the Tourists on Thursday night.
Knights 7, Red Wings 6
E — Romero. LOB–ROC: 4, CHA: 6. 2B–Ramirez, Nelson, Colabello, Sanchez, Semien, Tekotte. HR—Ortiz, Danks.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email email@example.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less