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Heath, Knights finding their groove

By Seth Lakso
Correspondent
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/01/23/41/GTWGe.Em.138.jpeg|247
    Diedra Laird - dlaird@charlotteobserver.com
    Knights #6 Marcus Semien (right) congratulates Tyler Saladino (left) on his home run putting the Knights up 2-0 during the Gwinnett Braves at Charlotte Knights game at BB&T BallPark.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/01/23/41/1ukeUo.Em.138.jpeg|212
    Diedra Laird - dlaird@charlotteobserver.com
    Gwinnett’s Edward Salcedo is safe at first as the Knights' first baseman Tyler Saladino tries to make the play during the Gwinnett Braves at Charlotte Knights game at BB&T BallPark.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/01/23/41/t7Dgr.Em.138.jpeg|174
    Diedra Laird - dlaird@charlotteobserver.com
    Gwinnett second baseman Ozzie Martinez lost control of the throw and Carlos Sanchez was safe at 2nd base during the Gwinnett Braves at Charlotte Knights game at BB&T BallPark.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/01/23/41/tqIls.Em.138.jpeg|262
    Diedra Laird - dlaird@charlotteobserver.com
    Carlos Sanchez of the Knights is safe at first base after the throw to Gwinett's first baseman Joey Terdoslavich during the Gwinnett Braves at Charlotte Knights game at BB&T BallPark.

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Over the past two Charlotte Knights’ homestands, the volume of the postgame music in the clubhouse has seemingly gone up with each win.

With the locker room situated directly across the hall from Joel Skinner’s office, it was almost difficult to hear the Knights manager over the decibels on Tuesday night after Charlotte claimed its fourth straight series win.

Both Tyler Saladino and Josh Phegley hit home runs to lift the Knights to a 3-1 win against the Gwinnett Braves on Tuesday night in front of 8,967 at BB&T BallPark.

“We were struggling really bad to start the season,” said the Knights’ top prospect, Matt Davidson, who finished the night 1-for-4. “Nobody was doing well and it was really negative in the clubhouse.

“Even before when we’d win games, it’d be quiet in the locker room and we’d be like, ‘OK, on to the next one.’ ” Davidson said. “Now, we’re actually enjoying it and experiencing it and now that we’ve had that taste of (consistent wins), we definitely want it every night.”

Deunte Heath (5-1) tossed six scoreless innings and struck out a season-high 10 to notch his third win in as many starts and lower his ERA to 2.39.

The win was Charlotte’s ninth in its past 12 contests and fourth against the Braves in the past four days (the teams split a doubleheader on Monday).

“It’s a lot of fun,” Knights center fielder Jordan Danks said. “It feels like we have a brand new team now, and we’re coming together real well and pulling out those close ball games.”

Daniel Rodriguez (4-10) gave up three runs and five hits while also striking out seven in six innings for the Braves, whose lone run came on a sac fly off Charlotte left-hander Nelvin Fuentes in the seventh.

The Knights spotted Heath to a 2-0 lead in the third inning when Saladino sent a two-run home run out to left. The long ball was Saladino’s third in as many games and raised his average to .444 over his past seven games. He’s now hitting a team-best .304.

“(Saladino’s) been putting good swings on balls that are a little up in the zone,” Skinner said. “They’re nice pitches to hit and he’s not trying to do too much with them. He’s getting the barrel to the ball and staying through it and getting that nice carry on his ball.”

Phegley added an insurance run in the sixth with his 12th home run of the season, cleaning out an inside fastball.

But the star of the night was Heath, who gave Charlotte six innings for the third straight outing.

“He was just getting ahead of everyone,” said Phegley, the only Knights player with multiple hits on Tuesday. “He’d either get a swing and miss, or a take, for a strike on his first pitch; and as a result, they were on their heels the whole game.”

Said Skinner, “Heath’s been great. With the amount of games we’ve played (lately), we needed that tonight.”

SOUTH ATLANTIC

Kannapolis 5, Delmarva 2: Third baseman Trey Michalczewski had a double and home run on a 2-for-3 day in the host Intimidators’ seventh straight win.

Hickory 11, West Virginia 6: The visiting Crawdads broke a 6-6 tie with five runs in the ninth culminating in Evan Van Hoosier’s three-run triple.

Tuesday’s box score

KNIGHTS 3, BRAVES 1

Gwinnettabrhbi
Constanza lf2010
Cunningham cf4000
Gosselin 3b4000
Terdoslavich 1b4010
Hamilton dh2000
Boggs ph-dh2110
Reyes ss4020
Salcedo rf2001
Lerud c3000
Martinez 2b3010
Totals30161

Charlotteabrhbi
Saladino 1b3112
Sanchez 2b4000
Semien ss3010
Danks cf4000
Phegley c4121
Davidson 3b4010
Tuiasosopo lf4000
Wilkins dh3010
Taylor rf1100
Totals30363

Gwinnett000000100162
Charlotte00200100X360

E–Cunningham, Reyes. DP–Gwinnett 1, Charlotte 1. LOB–Gwinnett 7, Charlotte 7. 2B–Semien. HR–Saladino, Phegley. SF–Salcedo. SB–Sanchez.

GwinnettIPHRERBBSO
Rodrigz L 4-10653347
Reyes210002

CharlotteIPHRERBBSO
Heath W 5-16100310
Fuentes12/331101
Thompsn S 511/320000

T-2:49. A-8,967.

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