The Charlotte Knights and Norfolk Tides both had their chances to break through during Saturday’s 15-inning affair at BB&T BallPark, but the Tides ultimately took advantage.
Behind a RBI single by Christian Walker in the top of the 15th inning, the Tides sealed a 4-3 victory en route to reclaiming a 1/2-game lead over Charlotte in the International League South Division.
With the Knights (53-42) leading 3-2 entering the top of the ninth inning, Zach Phillips came on in relief having converted six-consecutive save opportunities. But after allowing two out-out singles, Norfolk (52-40) tied the game at 3 on a sacrifice fly by Sean Halton. Charlotte put runners on first and second base with no outs in the bottom of the inning but didn’t score.
The Tides first chance to break the tie came in the top of the 11th inning. After Dariel Alvarez reached first base on a fielding error, Steve Clevenger singled to left field but was thrown out trying to advance to second base. Onelki Garcia struck out the next batter to strand Alvarez at second base.
Norfolk put runners on the corners with two outs in the top of the 12th inning, but the scoring effort was thwarted by another inning-ending strikeout by Garcia.
The Knights stranded Trayce Thompson on second base in the bottom of the 13th inning, but Charlotte’s best chance to score in extra innings came an inning later.
After hitting a one-out single in the bottom of the 14th inning, Tyler Colvin reached second base on a wild pitch before Micah Johnson struck out. Colvin then advanced to third base on a wild pitch to Leury Garcia, but Garcia struck out to end the inning.
The Tides took the lead in the top of the 15th inning, and the Knights were retired in order to bring the game to a conclusion.
“Both teams, any time you go that many extra innings they’re doing something right. It was just the first team to get a big hit once you get in those situations. Both teams had opportunities, and they were able to capitalize finally. We had some chances, and we just couldn’t get something to go our way.” – Charlotte manager Joel Skinner on the scoring chances for both teams on Saturday.
Charlotte reliever Onelki Garcia entered the game in the top of the 10th inning and pitched three scoreless innings. He allowed three hits and struck out five batters in his longest appearance of the season. ... In his first start of the season for the Knights, Hector Noesi pitched five innings and allowed one hit and one run while striking out four batters. After surrendering his lone run in the bottom of the second inning, he retired 11 straight batters.
The Knights and Tides play the final game of their four-game series at 5:05 p.m. on Sunday. Charlotte right-hander Shawn Haviland (4-5, 4.09) is slated to start across from Norfolk righty Zach Davies (3-5, 2.70). Kyle Drabek was originally scheduled to pitch for the Knights before being placed on the disabled list on Saturday.