Three strong pitching performances Friday night helped the Charlotte Knights (9-6) to a 4-1 victory over the Norfolk Tides (9-7) to take sole possession of first place in the International League South Division.
RHP Kyle Drabek – who was outrighted to the Knights from Chicago on Thursday – was sharp in his Knights debut, allowing only three hits over four innings pitched. The former first-round selection by the Philadelphia Phillies (2006) was claimed off waivers by Chicago in March after being placed on waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays.
RHP Maikel Cleto (1-0, 0.00) relieved Drabek and tossed three scoreless innings of one-hit baseball, earning his first win of the season. The outing was Cleto’s tenth consecutive scoreless outing, a streak that spans 17.1 innings.
RHP Arcenio Leon came on to pitch the final two innings, allowing one run on three hits and earning his first save of the season. The Tides’ lone run came with two outs in the ninth inning.
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Recently-promoted outfielder Jason Coats picked a good time for his first Class AAA hit, driving in Trayce Thompson with a two-out RBI-single in the second inning to give the Knights a 1-0 lead. The Texas Christian product joined the Knights on Thursday after posting a .340 batting average in 12 games with Class AA Birmingham.
Coats showed some defensive heroics in the game as well, throwing a strike from left field to deny Paul Janish a leadoff double in the eighth inning.
Dan Black doubled the Knights’ lead in the seventh inning with his third home run – a solo shot over the right-field wall off of Tides reliever LHP Patrick McCoy. Despite only eight starts this season, Black is tied for the team lead in home runs, and tied for third in RBI (7).
Trayce Thompson led the Knights’ offensive attack with a 3-4 effort, including a lead-off double to start a rally in the ninth inning. Thompson scored on Coats’ second RBI of the night, a sacrifice-fly to deep right field.
Carlos Sanchez used his final at-bat of the game to extend his hitting streak to 13 games, knocking an RBI-single to left field that scored Black to give the Knights a 4-0 advantage.
The Tides were able to get on the board in the bottom of the ninth inning, when an Audry Perez two-out single up the middle plated Christian Walker.
The battle for first place in the division continues as the Knights and Tides play game two of their three-game series on Saturday night at Harbor Park. RHP Shawn Haviland (0-1, 2.79) is set to take on RHP Mike Wright (2-0, 1.72) in a 7:05 p.m. match-up.