LAWRENCEVILLE, GA -- The Charlotte Knights loaded the bases in the eighth inning, put runners on the corners in the ninth inning, but failed to score a run on Monday and lost to the Gwinnett Braves by a score of 1-0 in the finale of their two-game series from Coolray Field in Gwinnett County Georgia.
The Knights had a couple of great opportunities on Monday, but came up just short in the final meeting with Gwinnett until July. In 10 games against the Braves this season, the Knights went 2-8 on the year.
Gwinnett starter Yohan Flande (1-0, 3.31) was sharp over six scoreless innings to earn his first victory of 2013. Flande, along with three relievers, combined to shut out the Knights for the third time over the past four games.
Simon Castro (0-3, 5.48) started for the Knights and was the hard-luck loser in what was his best outing of the season. Castro allowed one run on just three hits over six innings. He allowed the only run of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning on a Jose Yepez RBI double.
The Knights had a key opportunity in the top of the eighth inning. Brandon Short was hit-by-a-pitch to lead things off in the frame. Carlos Sanchez followed by reaching base on an error. Then, with two runners on base and nobody out, the Knights posed a potential threat to the Braves' lead.
Gwinnett then handed the ball to reliever Ryan Buchter, who replaced David Carpenter. After Lars Anderson grounded into a 1-5 forceout, Josh Bell drew a walk to load the bases with just one out. Gwinnett made one more pitching change and gave the ball to reliever Cory Rasmus.
With the bases loaded and the tying run on third base, Josh Phegley stepped to the plate. Phegley, who was already 3-3 on the evening, flied out to left field, which scored Sanchez from third base for what should have been the tying run. That wasn't the case.
Sanchez crossed the plate, but then Gwinnett catcher Jose Yepez threw over to third baseman Joe Leonard on an appeal play. After Leonard stepped on third base, Sanchez was called out, as home plate umpire Andy Dudones said that Sanchez left early. The double play changed the ballgame. Knights manager Joel Skinner argued and was thrown out of the game, but the inning was over with no runs on the scoreboard for Charlotte.
In the ninth, Charlotte threatened to tie the game and had runners on first and third, but Drew Garcia hit into a double play to end the game and the series.
With the loss, the Knights fell to 6-13 on the season. Gwinnett improved to 9-10.
The Knights will now travel back to Fort Mill and open an eight-game homestand beginning with the Norfolk Tides on Tuesday at Knights Stadium. RHP Matt Zaleski (1-0, 3.18) will get the nod for the Knights, while the Tides will send former White Sox hurler Freddy Garcia (2-0, 3.57) to the mound. Gates open at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday and first pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.