FORT MILL, SC - Before the final fireworks show in the history of Knights Stadium, the Gwinnett Braves (60-83) put on an impressive show of their own, coming back from a six-run deficit to blast the Charlotte Knights (64-78), 12-7 on Sunday night.
Gwinnett scored 11 runs over the final three innings, including six runs in the ninth, to complete their largest come-from-behind victory of the year. Sean Kazmar delivered the game-winning hit, knocking in Brandon Boggs for an 8-7 lead. The first seven G-Braves reached base in the final frame as the club scored a season-high 12 runs.
Gwinnett trailed 7-1 through five innings as left-hander Sean Gilmartin was roughed up in his final start of the season. He gave up nine hits and seven earned runs in his 5.0 innings of work.
But the Gwinnett bullpen held the Knights scoreless over the final four innings to help stage the comeback. Left-hander Juan Cedeno gave up just two hits over 2.0 innings, while left-hander Ryan Buchter (W, 4-0) allowed no hits and three walks over his two innings to earn the win. He also struck out five Knights.
The comeback started in the seventh inning when a throwing error by Charlotte first baseman Mike McDade allowed Todd Cunningham to score. It was one of five errors by Charlotte in the game, although only one Gwinnett run was unearned.
The G-Braves would score four more runs in the eighth inning, all with two outs. Matt Pagnozzi's double knocked in two runs. Alden Carrithers added a two-run single with the bases loaded to pull Gwinnett to within a run.
Then came the ninth. Gwinnett finished the inning with five hits, two hit batters, one walk and a sacrifice fly to account for their six runs. Joe Leonard, Kazmar, Pagnozzi and Phil Gosselin all picked up an RBI apiece. Cunningham's single knocked into two more runs. Five of the six runs were charged to Knights' right-hander Taylor Thompson (L, 1-2).
The final three innings were in stark contrast to the rest of the game for Gwinnett's offense, which mustered just five hits against Charlotte starter Nick McCully over 6.0 innings.
Evan Gattis, playing in his second game with Gwinnett since being optioned by Atlanta on Saturday, continued his hot hitting. He blasted a solo homer in the third inning to account for the first run of the game for the G-Braves. He finished 2-for-5 and is now 4-for-9 in the last two games, including three extra-base hits.
But after Gattis' mighty swing, Gwinnett did not get another hit until an infield single by Carrithers with two outs in the seventh inning. Little did Gwinnett know that the hit was just the start of a wild comeback for the G-Braves, pushing their winning streak to three games.
Marcus Semien and Brent Morel each went 3-for-4 with an RBI for Charlotte, while Blake Tekotte finished 1-for-5 with two RBIs.
The Gwinnett Braves and Charlotte Knights conclude the three-game series on Monday afternoon at 2:15 PM. The final game of the year, as well as the final game in the history of Knights Stadium, will feature G-Braves' right-hander David Hale (6-8, 3.15) facing off against Knights' right-hander Zach Stewart (5-14, 4.46). The radio broadcast will air on 1240 ESPN Radio in Gainesville, GA 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.