Sports

Now in a pennant fight, surging Knights face key home stand against division leaders

The Charlotte Knights have won 10 of their last 13 games and are putting pressure on two teams ahead of them in the International League playoff race.

The team’s seven-game home stand this week consists of three games against Northern Division leader Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees; and four games against West-leading Columbus (Ohio), the Cleveland Indians’ top farm team.

The Knights carry a 64-54 record into their Tuesday night meeting with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Charlotte is five games behind Southern Division leader Gwinnett , and 2.5 games in back of second-place Durham in the wild-card playoff race.

Some recently promoted players are helping lead the Charlotte surge.

Knights’ infielder Ramon Torres, called up from Double-A Birmingham on Aug. 1, was named the league’s Batter of the Week after hitting .688 (11-for-16) with four home runs and seven RBI in four games last week. And pitcher Matt Tomshaw tossed six shutout innings in Saturday’s 1-0 victory at Lehigh Valley, two days after his promotion from Double-A.

Fans attending any of the games uptown this week can expect home runs. Columbus leads the league, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is second, and the Knights are fourth.

But a pitcher might be the most interesting part of this week’s schedule.

Josh Maciejewski, who played with the Charlotte 49ers and was drafted in 2018 by the Yankees, tentatively is scheduled to pitch Thursday night against the Knights. He spent most of the season in Single-A ball but was promoted to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last week and allowed just one run in six innings against Gwinnett in his Saturday debut.

Maciejewski, 23, had a 1.99 ERA this season in Single-A.

Here is a look at the past week for the Knights and what lies ahead:

Last Tuesday: Daniel Palka’s 23rd homer of the season tied the game, and the Knights scored twice in the 10th inning for a 5-3 victory over host Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Wednesday: Torres had three hits and Yermin Mercedes scored three times as Charlotte pounded Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 12-2.

Thursday: The Knights completed a sweep of the Northern Division leader, winning 7-4 behind Luis Robert’s eighth home run and Torres’ four hits.

Friday: Charlotte rolled over Lehigh Valley 9-2, as starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne allowed one earned run in six innings and three Knights’ players homered.

Saturday: Torres’ eighth-inning homer lifted Charlotte to a 1-0 victory at Lehigh Valley. Tomshaw threw six shutout innings as the starter.

Sunday: The Knights’ road trip ended with a 6-3 loss to Lehigh Valley. Torres had a single and home run for Charlotte.

Week ahead: Charlotte hosts Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at 7:04 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The Knights entertain Columbus at 1:05 p.m. Friday (to avoid a conflict with Friday evening’s Carolina Panthers game), then face Columbus in a 5:05 p.m. doubleheader Saturday and a 5:05 p.m. single game Sunday.

Charlotte opens a big four-game road trip to Durham next Monday night.

Steve Lyttle on Twitter: @slyttle

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