(Norfolk, VA) - It's been a long road back from 2012 Tommy John surgery for Charlotte starter Scott Carroll. On Thursday, he looked as good as new.
Carroll (1-0, 0.00) allowed just five hits over six scoreless innings, Jared Mitchell provided the punch with a two-run home run in the fifth inning, and the Charlotte Knights shut out the Norfolk Tides by a score of 3-0 on Opening Day from Harbor Park in Norfolk, VA on Thursday. The win was Charlotte's third straight over Norfolk dating back to last season.
A native of Kansas City, MO, Carroll, 29, appeared in 35 games in 2012 - nine of those with the Knights. Offseason Tommy John surgery limited Carroll to just 11 games last season - 24 less than his 2012 performance. He made five of his 2013 appearances with Advanced Rookie Bristol and compiled a 0-0 mark with a 1.69 ERA. After a promotion to Double-A Birmingham in August, Carroll posted a 0-2 mark with a 4.32 ERA in six starts for the Barons.
Now, this season, the 6'4" righty is back with the Knights and his performance on Thursday was a big step forward. He tossed 83 pitches, 50 for strikes and walked just two batters while striking out four over six innings. While holding the Tides scoreless, Mitchell helped back Carroll's gem with a long home run over the right center field fence.
Mitchell, 25, launched a two-out, two-run blast off Norfolk starter Eddie Gamboa (0-1, 3.60) to give the Knights a 2-0 lead. Gamboa made a spot start for the Tides as scheduled starter Kevin Gausman was scratched just hours before the game. Gausman could be earning a promotion to Baltimore in the near future.
For Mitchell, the home run was his second at the Triple-A level. The former two-sport star at LSU last homered as a member of the Knights on August 16, 2012. He finished the game 1-for-3 with the home run and two RBIs.
Charlotte (1-0) received an insurance run in the ninth inning courtesy of catcher Josh Phegley, who tripled off Norfolk reliever Tim Alderson. It was Phegley's first triple since May 27, 2013. Matt Davidson, the number four-ranked prospect in the White Sox system, as rated by Baseball America, went 3-3 with two doubles and an RBI. His RBI single in the ninth gave the Knights the 3-0 lead.
The Charlotte bullpen combined on three hitless innings to close out the Opening Day victory. Taylor Thompson pitched the seventh and David Purcey pitched the final two frames to earn his first save of the season.
The two teams will continue their four-game series on Friday from Norfolk. RHP Andre Rienzo gets the start for the Knights while the Tides will send RHP Steve Johnson to the hill. Rienzo tossed a seven-inning no-hitter for the Knights last season on July 25, 2013. The Brazilian-born right-hander also made his Major League debut last season with Chicago.
The "Voice of the Knights" Matt Swierad has the call for all of the action on ESPN 730 AM and WRHI (1340 AM and 94.3 FM) starting at 6:50 p.m. First pitch of game two is set for 7:05 p.m. from Norfolk.
The Knights return home to open BB&T Ballpark on Friday, April 11 against the Tides. The inaugural season at BB&T Ballpark kicks-off with a party in Romare Bearden Park at noon on Friday, April 11. BB&T Ballpark gates open at 5:00 p.m. and first pitch of the team's first game in Uptown Charlotte is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.