(UPTOWN CHARLOTTE, NC) - In a pair of one-run games, the Charlotte Knights earned a 7-6 win before a 3-2 loss to split a doubleheader with the Columbus Clippers on Saturday night at BB&T Ballpark.
The Knights are now tied with the Durham Bulls atop the International League Wild Card standings, with both teams holding a record of 68-56.
In game one, the Knights struck first against former teammate Jordan Stephens in the second as Daniel Palka launched his team-leading 25th home run of the season, a solo shot to center.
Over the next two innings, the Clippers responded with four runs to take a 4-1 lead. But the Knights rallied off Stephens to tie it in the bottom of the fourth behind RBI singles from AJ Reed, Nick Madrigal, and Yoan Moncada.
The tie was short lived as Ka'ai Tom's homer put the Clippers up 5-4 in the fifth. Palka reached on an error to start the bottom of the frame and Zack Collins walked to put runners on first and second. Yermin Mercedes then provided the decisive blow with a towering three-run homer to right, his 13th home run of the season, to give the Knights a 7-5 lead.
Columbus got a run closer in the sixth, but Jose Ruiz (S, 4) shut the door in the seventh to finish the win and earn the save.
Charlotte starter Dylan Covey (W, 1-1) earned his first Charlotte win of the season after giving up five earned runs on 11 hits with five strikeouts and no walks over 5.0 innings. Offensively, Moncada went 2-for-4 and Collins was 2-for-3 with two runs while Palka and Mercedes provided the power in the win.
The nightcap was a different story. Playing as the road team, the Knights scored first in the top of the fourth by writing a new chapter in the franchise record book. Moncada launched a solo shot 409 feet to right for the first home run of his rehab assignment, giving Charlotte a 1-0 lead. The home run was the Knights' 186th of the season, surpassing the long-standing record of 185 set by the 1993 club.
An RBI single from Daniel Johnson tied the game in the bottom of the fourth. Ramon Torres' RBI ground out scored Seby Zavala to put the Knights back in front 2-1 in the fifth. Columbus then tied it on Mark Mathias' RBI double in the bottom of the inning.
In the sixth, Johnson laced a single to center, scoring Yu Chang to put Columbus up 3-2. That would prove to be the winning run as the Knights were held off the board in the seventh.
Making the start in the second game for the Knights, Colton Turner threw 3.0 scoreless innings as neither team could break through early. Connor Walsh gave up two runs over 2.0 innings before Juan Minaya (L, 4-2) took the loss by giving up the run in the sixth.
The Knights and Clippers conclude their series on Sunday night. Matt Tomshaw (2-1, 5.49) is set to start for Charlotte. Pregame coverage of the 5:05 p.m. game is set for 4:50 p.m. on 730 The Game ESPN Charlotte. The "Voice of the Charlotte Knights" Matt Swierad and long-time Knights radio broadcaster Mike Pacheco will have the call for all of the action.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.