FORT MILL, S.C. – The Charlotte Knights lost their second game in a row Sunday at Knights Stadium as the Pawtucket Red Sox earned a split of the four-game series with a 5-4 victory.
A three-run eighth inning erased a 3-2 Knights lead, with Red Sox relief pitchers Jose De La Torre and Josh Fields holding off Charlotte in the final two innings to secure the wIn. Despite giving up one run in one inning of relief, Charlotte native and Charlotte Christian High School graduate Daniel Bard (3-2) earned the victory for the Red Sox.
Knights reliever Anthony Carter (3-6) took the loss in relief for Charlotte. Charlie Shirek started for the Knights and went six innings giving up two runs, five hits and striking out five. Chris Hernandez started for Pawtucket and along with Shirek did not figure in the decision. Hernandez pitched six innings allowing two runs on four hits while striking out six.
The Red Sox grabbed a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. Nate Spears led off inning with a triple off Shirek. Two batters later Ryan Kalish lined a shot down the left field line where Knights left fielder Jared Mitchell made a diving catch. With Mitchell on the ground after the snag, Spears was able to tag up and score.
Pawtucket added a run in the sixth on a single, a sacrifice and an RBI single by Tony Thomas.
Charlotte tied the game at 2-2 in its half of the sixth. Greg Golson and Carlos Sanchez led off the inning with back-to-back singles. A wild pitch by Hernandez allowed the runners to advance to second and third with nobody out. Conor Jackson knocked in the Knights first run with a sacrifice fly scoring Golson to slice the Red Sox lead to 2-1. Sanchez also tagged up and went to third on the play.
Dan Johnson followed with another sacrifice fly plating Sanchez and tying the game at 2-2. The Knights took a brief one-run lead in the seventh on Drew Garcia's RBI single which scored Brett Morel from second.
The Charlotte 3-2 advantage didn't last long as Pawtucket exploded for three runs in the top of the eighth off Carter. Four straight singles by Ivan De Jesus, Kalish, Thomas and Danny Valencia plated three runs and the Red Sox took a 5-3 lead. Valencia went 2-for-3 on the day with two RBIs for Pawtucket.
The Knights made some noise in their final at bat and nearly tied the game in th ninth. With one out Mitchell doubled. Josh Phegley followed with a double scoring Mitchell, and became the tying run at second base. After Garcia struck out and with the outfielders drawn in, Golson lined a sharp single to left. Phegley rounded third and never looked back attempting to score the tying run. Thomas' throw nailed Phegley at the plate for the final out, and Pawtucket escaped with the one-run victory.
The Knights will continue their eight-game homestand Monday night at Knights Stadium at 7:15 p.m. when they'll begin a four-game series with the Syracuse Chiefs. Charlotte will put Dylan Axelrod (7-5) on the mound to face Tanner Roark (6-16) of Syracuse.