FORT MILL, S.C. -- The Knights welcomed the Syracuse Chiefs, a Washington Nationals affiliate, to Knights Stadium for the first time this season on Monday night, and Charlotte won 6-2 for their 80th win of the season. The only two times the Knights have won 80 games they went on to win the International League Governors Cup Championship in 1993 and 1999.
Deunte Heath got out of a first-and-third nobody out situation in the third inning, thanks in part to a diving catch by left-fielder Jim Gallagher. With one out, Syracuse designated hitter Jim Negrych lofted a fly ball to shallow left and Gallagher charged in and made a diving catch to prevent a run from scoring. Heath then struck out Carlos Rivera to get out of the inning.
Charlotte (80-57) put up a 3-spot in their half of the third on three hits and an error. Conor Jackson doubled home Greg Golson and Dan Johnson followed with an opposite-field double to the left-centerfield gap to score Carlos Sanchez and Jackson. All the runs scored with two outs.
The Chiefs got on the board in the fourth when Josh Johnson singled home Chris Marrero to make it 3-1.
Heath (1.48 ERA) pitched four effective innings and only allowed one run on four hits. He struck out six Chiefs and walked two.
In the home fourth, the Knights tacked on two more to make it 5-1. Golson drove home Hector Gimenez and Jared Mitchell with a one-out double to the right-centerfield gap. Golson, who came on in the first for Gallagher who hurt himself running out his infield single, was 1-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored.
Sandy Leon doubled and scored on a Jesus Valdez base hit in the fifth to cut the Knights’ lead to 5-2.
The Knights added an insurance run in the eighth on a Hector Gimenez double and a Brent Morel RBI base hit.
Daniel Moskos threw three innings in relief of Heath and surrendered one run. Jhan Carlos Marinez (4-2, 2.90) pitched two perfect innings and struck out three to get the victory.
Game two of the series is Tuesday night at 7:15 p.m. Charlie Leesman (12-9, 2.46) is scheduled to take the hill for Charlotte against Syracuse left-hander and 2009 National League All-Star Zach Duke (14-5, 3.52).