Trayce Thompson has recorded a hit in all eight games he’s played in this season. His hit on Thursday night, however, may have been his most important so far this year.
Thompson ripped a go-ahead, two-run double in the top of the 10th inning and the Charlotte Knights held on to beat the Gwinnett Braves by a score of 7-6 on Thursday in the finale of their two-game series at Coolray Field. The win gave the Charlotte Knights (5-3) a two-game series sweep over their International League South Division foe.
A second round pick of the Chicago White Sox in the 2009 draft, Thompson, 24, has been red-hot to begin the season. The son and brother of NBA players, Thompson has settled in nicely as Charlotte’s center fielder this season and has excelled on the baseball diamond thus far. He entered play with an International League high seven-game hit streak on Thursday. In the sixth inning, he extended it to eight games. Four innings later, he played the hero.
With the game tied at 4-4, Tyler Saladino ignited the offense in the 10th inning with a leadoff single off Gwinnett reliever Kanekoa Texeira (0-2, 12.00). Carlos Sanchez followed with a bunt single to give the Knights two runners on in the 10th with no outs. That hit was the third of the day for Sanchez, who bumped his batting average up to .417.
After a Neftali Soto sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third with just one out, Texeira was forced to intentionally walk catcher George Kottaras to load the bases and put a force out at any base. The strategy didn’t work as Thompson roped a two-run double to center field which game the Knights a 6-4 lead at that point. Thompson went 3-for-6 on the night with two doubles and three RBIs. The California native upped his average to .419.
Texeira, who wound up being saddled with the loss, left the game with an injury and gave way to starting first baseman Barrett Kleinknecht, who took the mound. The Florence, S.C., native allowed a sacrifice fly RBI to Engel Beltre before striking out Dan Black to end the inning. The Knights scored a total of three runs in the frame and went to the bottom of the 10th inning ahead by a score of 7-4. Charlotte scored all seven of their runs over their final five innings.
Charlotte reliever Daniel Webb came on to close the game out in the bottom of the 10th inning, but had his troubles. Webb allowed two runs on three hits in the 10th, but got Jose Peraza to ground out to end the game. Webb notched his first save of the season.
Left-handed reliever Eric Surkamp (1-0, 0.00) tossed two scoreless innings (8th and 9th) for the Knights and went on to earn the win. He walked one and struck-out two.
Carlos Rodon started for the Knights and allowed three runs on six hits over five innings and did not factor in the decision. Rodon, the top ranked prospect in Chicago’s system by Baseball America, walked two batters and struck-out four. The North Carolina State University product tossed 87 pitches, 56 for strikes. It was just his fifth career start at the Class AAA level.
Chicago White Sox right-handed pitcher Jake Petricka made his 2015 debut. Petricka, 26, was assigned to Charlotte on a Major League Rehab assignment earlier in the day after beginning the season on Chicago’s disabled list with a right forearm strain. He struck-out one batter over a scoreless sixth inning.
The Knights will now return home to BB&T Ballpark to open a three-game weekend series with the Braves on Friday at 7:05 p.m. Gates open at 6 p.m.