Entering Thursday night’s game against the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Charlotte Knights had an opportunity to accomplish a feat they hadn’t achieved in nearly 10 months.
Having not swept an opponent in a series of three games or more since August, Charlotte took advantage of its 2-0 series lead against Pawtucket behind its offense and the bat of George Kottaras.
Propelled by Kottaras’ single-game high of 6 RBIs, two short of the franchise record, the Knights defeated the Red Sox 15-5 on Thursday at BB&T BallPark to seal the three-game sweep.
The Knights (37-29) and Kottaras ignited their offensive brigade in the bottom of the first inning. After a sacrifice fly by Matt Tuiasosopo gave Charlotte a 1-0 lead, Kottaras hit a double with the bases loaded to put the Knights up 4-0. Kottaras later scored on a RBI double by Tyler Colvin, who finished 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs and a walk.
Pawtucket (32-35) answered Charlotte’s five-run first inning with a solo home run from Garin Cecchini, cutting the Knights lead to 5-1. And after Charlotte added a run in the bottom of the third inning, Cecchini hit his second solo shot in the top of the fourth inning.
But the Knights scored seven runs between the fourth and sixth innings, capped by a three-run blast by Kottaras in the bottom of the sixth inning, to take a commanding 13-2 lead.
The Red Sox chipped away at Charlotte’s lead with three runs in the top of the eighth inning, but it wasn’t enough to keep up with Kottaras and the Knights.
“George has been great. He gets a lot done on the days he doesn’t play also. Working with the (pitching) staff, working with (pitching coach) Dot (Richard Dotson) and working with (catcher) Smitty (Kevan Smith). It’s been good. This time of year, he’s going to catch a couple times a week as we get a little bit of a rotation going.” - Knights’ manager Joel Skinner on Kottaras.
The Knights’ 15 runs were the most the team has scored since their 17-4 win against the Gwinnett Braves on Aug. 18. ... Tuiasosopo’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first inning accounted for the 500th RBI of his 12-year Minor League career.
The Knights welcome the Indianapolis Indians to BB&T BallPark for a three-game series starting on Friday at 7:05 p.m. Charlotte right-hander Terrance Marin (1-0, 0.00) will face Indianapolis righty Adrian Sampson (6-4, 3.58).