As Norfolk Tides relief pitcher Jorge Rondon’s pitch hit the catcher’s mitt, Charlotte Knights left fielder Trayce Thompson threw his helmet down in disgust after striking out in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The frustration displayed by Thompson hinted at the struggles Charlotte had at the plate against Norfolk’s pitching staff on Friday night, as the Knights recorded only two hits and struck out 11 times en route to a 5-0 defeat.
Righty Eddie Gamboa (4-3, 3.49) pitched six innings of shutout ball, utilizing his knuckleball to surrender only two hits and one walk while tallying five strikeouts.
The Tides (31-23) jumped on Knights RHP Erik Johnson (4-5, 4.18) in the top of the third inning, scoring three runs on three hits and an error before Charlotte (30-24) even recorded an out.
After Johnson was pulled after six innings, Norfolk tacked on two more runs in the top of the seventh inning via back-to-back solo home runs by Dariel Alvarez and Chris Parmelee off Knights southpaw Jarrett Casey.
Rondon and righty Dane De La Rosa pitched the final three innings for the Tides, continuing Charlotte’s offensive woes by allowing only one runner to reach base.
Charlotte center fielder Leury Garcia swiped his team-high 20th stolen base of the season in the bottom of the fourth inning. Garcia entered Friday’s game ranked second in the International League in stolen bases behind Gwinnett’s Eury Perez, who had 25 stolen bases prior to Friday. ... Knights right-hander Junior Guerra came on in relief in the top of the eighth inning and pitched two hitless innings of relief while striking out two batters. ... Friday’s crowd of 10,594 fans was the second largest in the history of BB&T BallPark.
“(Eddie Gamboa) threw (his knuckleball) over and it had movement. So from that standpoint, that’s the biggest thing is that’s obviously a pitch that gives hitters fits when you’re able to throw it over. That’s what he did today.” - Charlotte manager Joel Skinner on Norfolk starting pitcher Eddie Gamboa.
The Knights and Tides will play Game 2 of their three-game series at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday. RHP Scott Carroll (2-1, 1.83) will take the hill for Charlotte across from Norfolk LHP Chris Jones (1-3, 2.61).