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Charlotte Knights fall 11-8 to Pawtucket

Knights’ outfielder Jared Mitchell and Pawtucket Red Sox starting pitcher Anthony Ranaudo were teammates at LSU and won the College World Series in 2009.

They still stay in touch, talking nearly every day, and they spend about 90 percent of their offseason together in Baton Rouge, La. Mitchell even gave Ranaudo a ride back to his hotel Thursday after the first game of a four-game series between the Knights and the Red Sox.

“There’s definitely competition every time (we face each other),” Ranaudo said. “I know every time he gets a hit off me at least it feels like it counts a little more.”

The matchup between the two former Tigers in Friday’s 11-8 Red Sox win was heated. Ranaudo struck out Mitchell looking in the first inning, but the Knights left fielder made hard contact in his other three at-bats, highlighted by a triple in the fifth and a single in the seventh.

“I went 2-for-4 off him,” Mitchell said. “I’ll take .500 off any pitcher any day.”

But even though Mitchell won the head-to-head battle, Ranaudo’s Sox came out on top to win their second straight game of the series.

Ranaudo gave up four runs over 6 1/3 innings, an uncharacteristically poor start for Boston’s 11th-ranked prospect, according to Baseball America. This was only the second time in his past ten starts that he allowed more than two runs.

Still, Ranaudo earned his league-leading 13th win for the Sox, largely thanks to an offensive outburst in the second inning when the Knights’ defense couldn’t come up with an out.

With a runner on first and one out, Pawtucket’s Justin Henry hit a hard grounder under the glove of first baseman Andy Wilkins. Then things really started unraveling for Knights starter Chien-Ming Wang.

Derrik Gibson doubled and advanced to third on a throwing error, Mookie Betts hit a hard grounder off Micah Johnson’s glove, and Alex Hassan doubled down the left field line. After Mitchell couldn’t come up with a catch on Bryce Brentz’s double, Travis Shaw hit a grounder just out of Johnson’s reach, and Carlos Rivero hit an infield single and the Knights found themselves in a 6-0 hole.

“We didn’t play a real clean game early,” Knights manager Joel Skinner said. “We made some errors and had some chances to make plays that weren’t made, so that extended some innings and created the deficit we were in.”

The Knights did mount several comebacks, including scoring three in the ninth, but they were done in by their lack of production with runners on base. The Knights left a season-high 17 runners on base, far more than their previous record of 13.

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