FORT MILL, S.C. – On April 14, 1990, the Charlotte Knights officially opened Knights Stadium. On Monday, September 2, 2013, in front of 6,894 adoring fans, the Knights closed out their wonderful 24-year run at their legendary stadium with a cheerful 4-0 win over the Gwinnett Braves.
Blake Tekotte put the Knights on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning. Tekotte’s groundout scored Marcus Semien from third base to give the Knights an early 1-0 lead. Three innings later, the Knights added another run against Gwinnett starter David Hale (6-9, 3.22).
With Andy Wilkins on second base and Steve Tolleson on first, Carlos Sanchez singled home Wilkins to make it a 2-0 ballgame.
Just one inning later, Travis Ishikawa pushed across another run with an RBI single to center. Wilkins followed with an RBI double to make it a 4-0 game. That was all the Knights would need.
RHP Zach Stewart (6-14, 4.25) tossed eight shutout innings, Wilkins and Sanchez had two hits apiece, and the Knights gave the fans in attendance a win on the very last day of the season – and in the stadium’s history.
Stewart walked just one batter and allowed 10 hits on the day en route to the final game victory. He struck out eight batters and left the game in the hands of Deunte Heath in the ninth.
Heath allowed a hit in the ninth inning, but that was it. The Charlotte right-hander closed out the stadium in quality fashion and brought the fans to their feet when he got Phil Gosselin to pop out to Wilkins for the third and final out.
The final win at Knights Stadium will forever belong to Zach Stewart. The lasting memories will forever belong to all of the people who supported the stadium over the past 24 years.
After the game, a special on-field ceremony honoring former Charlotte O’s and Charlotte Knights took place. Head groundskeeper Eddie Busque, along with his son Hunter Busque, removed home plate in front of an emotional crowd. Long-time employees Eddie Waddell and Beverly Burnette escorted home plate to a helicopter in center field. Homer the Dragon then entered the helicopter as the Knights said goodbye to Knights Stadium.