PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- Pawtucket starting pitcher Steven Wright (1-0) allowed just two runs over seven innings, Danny Valencia, Tony Thomas, and J.C. Linares all homered, and the Pawtucket Red Sox beat the Charlotte Knights 7-2 on Tuesday in game one of the Governors’ Cup Finals from McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket.
Playing in their first Governors’ Cup Finals game since 1999, the Knights got off to a quick start offensively. In the top of the first inning, Charlotte took a 1-0 lead on a sacrifice fly by Seth Loman, which scored Greg Golson. The momentum, however, quickly shifted to Pawtucket in the bottom of the inning.
Charlotte starter Charlie Leesman allowed back-to-back singles to begin the bottom of the first. Linares then followed by grounding a ball down the first base line and Charlotte first baseman Seth Loman and Leesman collided. Loman got the out, but Leesman left the game with an undisclosed injury.
With runners on second and third and just one out, Knights manager Joel Skinner was forced to call upon his scheduled game two starter Andre Rienzo. Rienzo allowed a sacrifice fly to Valencia, which tied the game at 1-1.
In the third inning, Valencia launched the first of three Pawtucket home runs on the evening to make it a 3-1 PawSox lead. The two-run home run by Valencia came off of Rienzo, who suffered the loss.
Charlotte got one run back in the top of the fourth inning on a Brandon Short RBI single. The PawSox came right back with an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Rienzo (0-1) allowed a leadoff triple to Bryce Brentz in the fourth and two batters later, Jason Repko brought Brentz home on a fielder’s choice to make it 4-2.
Pawtucket then broke the game wide open in the seventh inning off of Charlotte reliever Ryan Kussmaul. Making just his third appearance with Charlotte in 2012 and second of the playoffs, Kussmaul allowed back-to-back home runs to Thomas and Linares. Pawtucket had a 7-2 lead at that point -- their largest of the game.
The Knights failed to score over their final five innings and lost for the fourth time overall in 2012 to Pawtucket. Charlotte went 5-3 against the PawSox during the regular season.
In all, Rienzo allowed three runs on four hits over 5.2 innings. He struck-out seven batters.
The two teams will continue their series on Wednesday from McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket with game two of the best-of-five series. RHP Charlie Shriek, who was scheduled to start game three, is the likely starter for Charlotte on Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
The Charlotte Knights return home to Knights Stadium to host the PawSox in game three on Thursday. Gates open at 6:00 p.m. and first pitch of Thursday’s game is set for 7:15 p.m. If necessary, the Knights will also host game four (Friday, September 14) and game five (Saturday, September 15) at Knights Stadium. Both games are also scheduled for 7:15 p.m.