FORT MILL, S.C – Dallas McPherson cleared the bases in the first inning and the Charlotte Knights started the second half on the right note.
McPherson ripped a three-run double in a five-run first inning, Charlie Shirek (8-4, 3.50) allowed one earned run over six innings, and the Knights tamed the Durham Bulls 6-4 on Thursday in the opening game of a four-game series from Knights Stadium.
Knights left fielder Tyler Kuhn ignited the offense early with a single off of Durham starter Jim Paduch (4-7, 5.45) and things began to fall into place early for Charlotte. Drew Garcia then followed with a single and after a walk to Dan Johnson, the Knights were in business early.
With the bases loaded and one out (Conor Jackson popped out), the table was set for McPherson, who has enjoyed hitting against Durham this season. Entering Thursday’s game, McPherson had a .368 batting average with two home runs and 10 RBIs in 10 games against Durham this season. He continued that trend in the opener.
On the first pitch he saw from Paduch, McPherson roped a ball into centerfield to clear the bases and give the Knights a 3-0 lead. The hits kept on coming as third baseman Jeff Baisley followed with an RBI double to make it a 4-0 game.
Three batters later, Ray Olmedo drove home the fifth run of the inning with an RBI single. It was all the Knights would need to get past Durham on Thursday.
Durham did however battle back to score four runs along the way, but the Knights held onto their lead on Thursday en route to their 51st win of the season and eighth over the Bulls in 12 games this season.
Reliever Anthony Carter tossed two scoreless innings in relief and Clemson product Daniel Moskos earned the save in the ninth, despite allowing a solo home run to Chris Gimenez.
Charlotte (51-42) kept their three-game lead over Norfolk, as both teams earned wins on Thursday. The first place Knights are now eight games ahead of the Bulls in the South Division.
The two teams will be back in action for game two on Friday night. LHP Pedro Hernandez will toe the rubber for Charlotte, while the Bulls will send RHP Matt Torra to the hill. Gates are set to open at 6:00 p.m. and first pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Spider-Man will be on-hand to meet and greet fans, as well as throw out a ceremonial first pitch and sign autographs.