Charlotte Knights manager Joel Skinner always hopes his team can stave off the “big inning.”
But on Wednesday night, it was a seven-run fourth inning by the Columbus Clippers that led to the Knights’ 9-3 downfall at BB&T BallPark.
Clippers’ first baseman Zach Walters started the scoring onslaught for Columbus (26-21) in the top of the fourth inning with a leadoff home run over the wall in right-center. The Clippers tacked on six more runs in the inning on five hits and an error, batting around their order and knocking Charlotte starting pitcher Shawn Haviland out of the game after only 3 2/3 innings.
The Knights got on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning, as left fielder Jason Coats continued his hot hitting with a home run over the wall in left-center. It was his second of the year, and he’s now hitting .312 in the month of May after going 2-for-3 on Wednesday.
Charlotte pulled within five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, as first baseman Neftali Soto singled in second baseman Micah Johnson from second base. But a two-run home run by Columbus designated hitter Giovanny Urshela in the ninth inning put the game out of reach.
Charlotte left-hander Jarrett Casey relieved Harviland in the fourth inning and pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings, tallying five strikeouts in the process. The appearance was his 14th of the season and tenth without surrendering at least one run. ... Knights’ second baseman Micah Johnson finished the night 2-for-4 with a single, a double and a run scored. He now holds a seven-game hitting streak.
“They had the one big inning that put us in a hole, but we battled back. A play here, a play there helps, but they scored the seven runs in the one inning and that set the tone for the game.” –Knights manager Joel Skinner on the Clippers’ seven-run fourth inning.
The Knights and Clippers will play the fourth and final game of their four-game series on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Junior Guerra (0-3, 3.86) is slated to start for Charlotte across from left-hander Michael Roth (5-1, 2.39).