Charlotte Knights

Knights give Opening Day sell out victory

Charlotte Knights's Tyler Saladino dives back to first base during a pick-off attempt at the BB&T BallPark in Charlotte, on Thursday.
Charlotte Knights's Tyler Saladino dives back to first base during a pick-off attempt at the BB&T BallPark in Charlotte, on Thursday. jkomer@charlotteobserver.com

The Charlotte Knights slugged their way to an Opening Day 6-3 win over the Norfolk Tides in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,514 at BB&T Ballpark on Thursday.

Veteran righthander Brad Penny (1-0) got the start for the Knights and did a nice job of keeping the ball down. Penny allowed three runs on seven hits over 52/3 innings, striking out two and inducing 12 groundball outs.

Tyler Saladino returned to action for the first time since suffering a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm just prior to the 2014 Triple-A All-Star break. He finished the game 3-for-4 with a triple, a sacrifice fly, two runs knocked in and a stolen base.

After the Tides took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, the Knights responded with a three-run second, which featured a home run by Engel Beltre (1-for-4) in his first at-bat as a member of the Knights.

Matt Davidson (1-for-3, BB) added to the Knights’ lead in the third inning when he sent a 0-1 Tyler Wilson (0-1) fastball deep into the left center-field bleachers.

Kevan Smith, in his first game with the Knights after being promoted from Class AA Birmingham, finished the night 3-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI.

Quote

“This was the first time in probably my whole career where I went out and threw almost all sinkers. I probably threw three four-seam (fastballs) today. It felt pretty good and it was getting groundballs; that’s what I want. I just don’t throw as hard as I used to, so now I’ve got to get some groundballs.” – Knights’ starter Brad Penny

Worth mentioning

The game was only four-pitches old when Tides’ DH Chris Parmelee hit the first home run at BB&T Ballpark of 2015. Excluding stadiums situated roughly 3,000 feet above sea level; no Minor League ballpark saw more home runs per game (2.65) than BB&T in 2014. … Arcenio Leon, Zach Phillips and Jairo Asencio (S, 1) combined to toss three-and-1/3 scoreless innings of relief. … Jeff Shaefer, who is the only player to have won championships with both the Charlotte O’s and Knights, threw out the first pitch.

What’s next?

Knights and Tides will play Game 2 of their four-game series at 7:05 p.m. on Friday. RHP Chris Beck (0-0) will take the mound for Charlotte across from RHP Mike Wright (0-0).

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