For the third time in the past four games and second day in a row, the Charlotte Knights bullpen couldn’t hold on to a late lead.
Charlotte looked to be on its way to avoiding a four-game sweep at the hands of the Pawtucket Red Sox right up until a Blake Swihart go-ahead two-run triple in the ninth inning sent the 9,401 at BB&T BallPark home Sunday with a case a deja vu.
A day after Bryce Brentz’s two-run home run in the top of the ninth led Pawtucket to a come-from-behind win, Swihart’s triple off Donnie Veal sparked the PawSox to a 6-4 victory.
“Anytime you have the lead, you want to complete the mission,” said Knights manager Joel Skinner. “A loss is a loss, but when you have a chance to win a game and don’t complete it, it hurts. These guys are competitive and they feel it, but you’ve just got to bounce back the next day.”
Taylor Thompson recorded the first out of the ninth inning before Skinner handed to ball off to Veal with the Knights leading 4-3.
Veal allowed a single and a walk before surrendering the triple to Swihart. The blown save was the sixth of the season for Veal (3-5) and summed up a series in which Charlotte seemed unable to put together a full nine-inning effort.
“That’s why it’s nine innings,” said Knights outfielder Michael Taylor, who tripled with one out in the fifth and the Knights leading 4-2, but was unable to score.
“It’s one of those things where I think before this series we were catching those breaks and these last few games, they’ve just gone the other way,” he said. “There were a couple opportunities that we had that we would have liked to cash in on and didn’t.”
Few players come to the ballpark accompanied by more hype than Pawtucket left-hander Henry Owens.
After taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning of his Class AAA debut against the Columbus Clippers last Monday, the 6-foot-6, 205-pound prospect took the mound looking to continue building his case for a September call-up.
For the first two innings, Owens – who had a 14-4 record with a 2.60 ERA with 126 strikeouts and 47 walks over 20 starts and 121 innings in Class AA – looked every bit deserving of his rating as the No. 2 southpaw in the game.
However, Charlotte put together a four-run third inning thanks to consecutive hits from Miguel Gonzalez, Jared Mitchell, Carlos Sanchez and Avisail Garcia.
It also helped that Andre Rienzo, who was on a limited pitch-count, was able to hold Pawtucket to two runs over five innings, with six strikeouts.
“That one inning we got (Owens) in the stretch and things started going our way, and we were able to keep the line moving a little bit,” said Skinner. “But other than that, we really didn’t do much.”
The Knights will travel to Syracuse for four games against the International League North-leading Chiefs, before heading back to North Carolina for a three-game set with the IL South-leading Durham Bulls.
“I still think we’ve put ourselves in great positions to win, especially the last two games,” said Taylor. “If you have the lead going into the eighth or ninth inning, I’ll take that anytime. It just didn’t work out these past couple days.”
RED SOX 6, KNIGHTS 4
DP–Pawtucket 1, Charlotte 1. LOB–Pawtucket 4, Charlotte 7. 2B–Hassan (28), Shaw, T (18), Marrero (9); Wilkins (30), Gonzalez, M (3), Semien (15). 3B–Swihart (1); Taylor, M (1). HR–Marrero. SF–Henry, Ju.
|Wilson W, 6-1||2||0||0||0||1||0|
|Veal L, 3-5||2/3||2||3||3||1||0|
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