Facing Charlotte Knights starting pitcher Brad Penny on Thursday night, the Norfolk Tides left runners in scoring position three times by grounding into inning-ending double plays.
But with one out and the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning, the Tides broke a 3-3 tie. With Penny out of the game and reliever Miguel Chalas on the mound, the Tides struck for three runs en route to a 6-3 win at BB&T BallPark.
The Knights (52-41) turned to Chalas to open the seventh. After recording an out, he loaded the bases by surrendering two singles and a walk to bring Dariel Alvarez to the plate.
Alvarez hit a ground ball to shortstop Leury Garcia, setting up a potential double play. But the Knights managed only a force out at second, as Alvarez beat Micah Johnson’s throw to first base and a run scored.
Sean Halton’s two-out, two-run double completed the scoring for Norfolk (51-39).
With the win, the Tides took a half-game lead over the Knights in the International League South Division standings.
“We did a good job the first six innings of eluding big innings, and we turned four double plays over the course of the whole game. We were able to get off the field. In the inning they scored the three runs, we weren’t able to turn the one double play – it wasn’t really turnable. But then they were able to add on the extra two runs. That wasn’t anyone’s doing. It was just a matter of they got some hits, and they were able to string some hits together off Miguel (Chalas).” — Charlotte manager Joel Skinner
Micah Johnson went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two stolen bases. He is batting .383 in July with 16 runs scored and seven stolen bases. … Trayce Thompson started in center field for the Knights despite landing in Charlotte two hours before game time after starting Wednesday’s Triple-A All-Star Game in Omaha, Neb. He leads the International League in games played (93).
The Knights and Tides play Game 2 of their four-game series at 7:05 p.m. Friday. Charlotte right-hander Scott Carroll (3-2, 2.10 ERA) will start against Norfolk right-hander Kevin Gausman (0-1, 0.00).