On Wednesday, Kevan Smith talked to the media about his excitement for Opening Day. On Thursday, he showed it with his bat.
Smith drove in four of Charlotte's nine runs, including a walk-off, game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the 11th inning to propel the Knights to a 9-8 win over the Norfolk Tides on Thursday in the 2017 home opener. Smith finished the night 4-for-6 with a double and the four RBIs. Smith's game-winning hit came off former Knights hurler Zach Stewart (0-1, 5.40), who was saddled with the loss.
Yoan Moncada made his Charlotte Knights debut and went 3-for-6 with a stolen base and two runs scored. Moncada, who is rated by Baseball America as the number two prospect in all of baseball, singled in each of his first two at-bats. The 21-year-old Cuban-born slugger started at second base and batted in the number two spot in the lineup.
RHP Reynaldo Lopez started the game for Charlotte and allowed four runs (two earned) on three hits over three innings. Lopez, who was acquired by the Chicago White Sox in the trade that sent Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals, walked three and struck-out five batters. He was relieved after the third inning by RHP Chris Volstad, who gave up four runs on four hits over two innings of work.
Over the final six innings, three Charlotte relievers combined to hold Norfolk scoreless. LHP Matt Purke, RHP Zack Burdi, and RHP Chris Beck (1-0, 0.00), struck-out eight batters over that six-inning stretch. Burdi fanned three batters over 1.2 innings pitched, while Purke struck-out four batters over 2.1 innings pitched. Beck earned the win after two shutout frames.
While Smith and Moncada combined to record seven of Charlotte's 18 hits, a number of other Knights also contributed to the win. Jose Vinicio (3-for-6), Rymer Liriano (2-for-6), Everth Cabrera (2-for-6), and Danny Hayes (1-for-4 with a run scored and three RBIs) all chipped in with two or more hits on the night.
Pedro Alvarez led the way for the Tides with two home runs. Alvarez finished the evening by going 2-for-3 with three walks and a game-high five RBIs.
The two teams will continue their four-game series on Friday night at BB&T Ballpark with game two of the set. RHP Carson Fulmer gets the nod for the Knights against RHP Gabriel Ynoa for the Tides. Gates open at 6:00 p.m. and first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. After the game, the Knights will light up the sky with post-game fireworks courtesy of BB&T and News Talk 1110 WBT. The two-millionth Knights fan is expected to come through the gates and the team will celebrate after the game by honoring that lucky fan.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.