The Charlotte Knights were able to take the series finale against the Syracuse Chiefs with a 4-2 victory Thursday night at NBT Bank Stadium. The win gave the Knights a 4-3 season-series victory over the Chiefs and put the team 1 game ahead of the Norfolk Tides for first place in the International League South Division.
Charlotte was able to jump out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning thanks to a big hit from the newest member of the team. Chris Curley – who joined the Knights from Class AA Birmingham on Wednesday – brought home Tyler Colvin and Trayce Thompson with an RBI-single in his first-career Triple-A at-bat.
The Knights would add to that lead in the top of the fourth, when George Kottaras pushed the advantage to 3-0 with a solo home run off Chiefs starter RHP Joe Ross. The homer was Kottaras’ fifth of the season and fourth in his last four games played. The native of Canada now boasts a .322 batting average and 17 RBI in 20 games this season.
Ross would be saddled with the loss in his first game since being optioned from the Washington Nationals – allowing three runs on five hits over five innings pitched. The outing was the former first round pick’s first of his Class AAA, being called-up by the Nationals from Class AA Harrisburg earlier this season.
The Chiefs would cut the lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth when Mario Lisson drove in Rick Hague with a two-out single. It would be the only run scored on Knights starter Kyle Drabek, who delivered another solid performance by scattering five hits over six innings. Drabek, 27, earned his third win of the season.
Dan Jennings made his second appearance with the Knights while on major-league rehab, tossing two innings of one-run ball. The run came in the bottom of the seventh inning on a Darin Mastroianni RBI-ground-out that cut the Charlotte lead to 3-2.
The Knights responded with an insurance run in the top of the eighth when Jason Coats doubled home Micah Johnson to give the team a 4-2 advantage. The RBI gave Coats 41 on the season, tying him with Matt Davidson for the team lead.
Onelki Garcia would enter the game in the bottom of the ninth inning and deliver a perfect final frame to seal the victory and earn his second save of the season.
The Knights will continue their 10-game road trip on Friday with Game one of three against the Rochester Red Wings. International League strikeouts leader Erik Johnson is set to take the mound for Charlotte in the 7:05 p.m. matchup, and you can catch all the action on the Knights flagship station, ESPN 730 AM.