FORT MILL, SC - The Gwinnett Braves scored early, the Charlotte Knights scored late. In between was an outstanding pitching effort, especially by Gwinnett, as the G-Braves (59-83) held on for a 3-2 win over the Knights (64-77) on Saturday night at Knights Stadium. Tyler Greene's three-run home run in the second inning proved to be the difference.
Gwinnett pitchers faced just one batter over the minimum heading into the ninth inning. But right-hander Wirfin Obispo allowed the first three batters to reach and the first two to score before settling down for his ninth save of the season. Marcus Semien's two-run single scored Carlos Sanchez and Miguel Gonzalez to make it a one-run game.
The final out of the game was a bang-bang play at first base as Obispo (S, 9) just beat Travis Ishikawa to the bag.
Gwinnett's bats heated up early against Knights' right-hander Stephen McCray (L, 0-4). Evan Gattis, playing in his first of three games with the G-Braves, knocked a double high off the wall in left-center field in the first inning, putting runners at second and third base. Ernesto Mejia followed with a flyout to left field that seemed deep enough for a sacrifice fly, but Charlotte left fielder Jim Gallagher gunned out Alden Carrithers at the plate for the final out of the inning.
Brandon Boggs led off the second inning with a double high off the wall in right-center field. Stefan Gartrell followed with a walk. After Joe Leonard and Phil Gosselin both flew out, it seemed another rally would fall short. But Greene, facing his former team for the first time as a member of the G-Braves, blasted McCray's 1-1 pitch over the left-center field wall for a three-run home run and a 3-0 lead.
Gwinnett right-hander Cody Martin (W, 3-4) made that lead hold up through 5.1 innings of scoreless work. He gave up just two hits and walked one while striking out three in his final start of the year.
Martin was finally lifted in the sixth inning with a runner on third base and one out. Right-hander Andrew Russell (H, 3) relieved him, and induced a popout to the shortstop Greene and a come-backer to the mound to end the inning with the shutout intact.
Gwinnett had several other chances to score, but squandered those opportunities. Gattis blasted another double high off the wall in left-center field in the third inning, but was later tagged out when Mejia grounded into a fielder's choice.
The G-Braves loaded the bases with one out in the seventh inning, but failed to score once again. Carrithers lifted a ball deep to left field, but Leonard stopped halfway home on his tag attempt and tried to scamper back. Greene wound up being tagged out between second and third base for the final out.
Through all of the struggles to score, the Gwinnett bullpen held the lead. Charlotte never had more than one runner on base in any inning until the ninth, and only one of those baserunners made it as far as second base through eight innings.
Boggs, Carrithers, Gattis and Greene all finished 2-for-4 for Gwinnett. Greene blasted his first home run with the G-Braves - his fourth of the season - and drove in three RBIs.
Semien finished 1-for-4 with two RBIs for the Knights.
The Gwinnett Braves will go for a third-straight win tomorrow night at Charlotte, first pitch scheduled for 7:15 PM. Left-hander Sean Gilmartin (3-8, 5.34) will start for the G-Braves, while right-hander Nick McCully (2-3, 6.37) will counter for the Knights. The radio broadcast will air on WDUN 550 AM and 102.9 FM with Judd Hickinbotham calling the play-by-play.
The next G-Braves' home game at Coolray Field will take place on Friday, April 11, 2014 against the Durham Bulls. Season tickets for the 2014 campaign are on sale now by calling the Coolray Field Box office at (678) 277-0340. For more information on 2014 season ticket packages, visit gwinnettbraves.com/2014.