INDIANAPOLIS, IN – While the final score resembled that of a Carolina Panthers/Indianapolis Colts matchup, the Charlotte Knights outslugged the Indianapolis Indians in an exciting game from start to finish.
In a series built around two of the top pitching staffs in the International League this season, it turns out both the South Division and West Division champions could hit, too.
Josh Phegley homered in game one and again on Thursday for game two, and the Charlotte Knights beat the Indianapolis Indians 14-13 in a slugfest in game two of the best-of-five first round Governors’ Cup playoffs. With the win, the Knights hold a commanding 2-0 lead and will now return to Fort Mill to play the rest of the series from their home ballpark.
Phegley returned to his hometown of Indiana on Wednesday for games one and two of the playoff series, and in front of family and friends, continued his hot-hitting. He entered the series with five home runs over his last 13 games. He would continue that trend in Indianapolis.
In two of the biggest games of his young career, Charlotte’s talented backstop combined to go 4-8 with two home runs and five RBIs and he helped lead his club to two wins in two games.
A day after scoring eight runs on 14 hits, the Knights scored 14 runs on 15 hits en route to their seventh win against the Indians in 10 games this year. Charlotte got off to a quick start on Thursday and had a 9-0 lead heading to the bottom of the third inning. The Indians, however, never gave up.
Neither starting pitcher stayed around long in Thursday’s contest. The Knights knocked out Indianapolis starter Gerrit Cole (0-1, 36.00) in the third inning. The 2011 first overall draft pick out of UCLA allowed eight runs on nine hits over just two innings and was saddled with the loss.
As for Charlotte’s starter, Charlie Shirek allowed eight runs on 11 hits over 4.2 innings and did not factor in the decision. The right-hander, who won 11 games during the regular season, walked two and struck-out two batters.
The Knights held an 11-8 lead after five innings and were looking to cruise to a game two win. During the regular season, Charlotte went 61-9 when leading after five innings. Things weren’t that simple on Thursday.
Charlotte scored a run in the seventh and two runs in the eighth to make it a 14-8 lead, but Indianapolis battled back.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Indians scored five runs, highlighted by a three-run home run off the bat of Yamaico Navarro, which cut it to a 14-13 game. The home run was hit off of reliever Jhan Carlos Marinez, who then settled down and got the final three outs in the ninth inning for the save.
Reliever Santos Rodriguez (1-0, 0.00) was the winning pitcher. Rodriguez, who was named as the Birmingham Barons’ Pitcher of the Year on Wednesday, struck-out three batters over 1.1 innings to earn the victory.
In all, the two teams combined for 27 runs and 30 hits.
The two teams will now make the trek to Fort Mill, as the Charlotte Knights will host game three on Friday. RHP Scott Carroll is the scheduled starter for Charlotte, while RHP Phil Irwin is expected to start for the Indians. Gates open at 6:00 p.m. and first pitch of Friday’s game is set for 7:15 p.m. The Knights will return home just one win away from advancing to the finals of the Governors’ Cup playoffs. A win on Friday would advance Charlotte to the finals.
2012 IL Playoff tickets are available at the Knights Ticket Office located at Knights Stadium, online at www.charlotteknights.com, or by phone at 704-357-8071 (North Carolina) or 803-548-8050 (South Carolina). Baseball Fans Wanted... No Experience Necessary!