(UPTOWN CHARLOTTE, NC) - Before an electric fireworks show lit up the Charlotte sky, the Charlotte Knights provided fireworks on the field with a 3-2 walk-off win in front of a record-setting Independence Day crowd of 10,848 at BB&T Ballpark on Thursday night.
Down 2-0 in the bottom of the seventh, Charlotte began the comeback. Yermin Mercedes started the inning with a single to center before the next two Knights hitters struck out. Ryan Goins kept the inning going with a double into the left field corner and Adam Engel walked to load the bases. The next hitter, Danny Mendick, hit a single through the right side of the infield, scoring Mercedes and Goins to tie the game 2-2.
Charlotte reliever Thyago Vieira (W, 4-2) kept the game tied with 2.0 scoreless innings from the bullpen. In the bottom of the ninth, Jacob Scavuzzo led off with a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Engel then ended the game with a sharp single to right, giving the Knights the thrilling walk-off victory.
The Knights were able to mount the comeback due to Justin Nicolino's strong start on the mound. The veteran lefty gave up a run in both the second and fifth inning, but limited the damage to a single run each time.
Over 7.0 strong innings, Nicolino gave up two runs on eight hits with one walk and four strikeouts in a quality start. Norfolk starter Dan Straily was also solid, keeping the Knights off the board for 5.1 innings. However, the Tides' bullpen couldn't hold the lead.
Looking to retake the lead in the ninth, Norfolk nearly got a leadoff hit from Jesus Sucre, but Knights first baseman Matt Skole made a diving catch to rob the Norfolk designated hitter. With two outs, Jack Reinheimer almost singled to right, but the Knights defense was up to the task again as Mendick made a running catch in shallow right field to end the inning and set the stage for the walk-off heroics.
The win is the Knights' eighth straight at BB&T Ballpark and improves their International League-leading home record to 30-13 on the season. The sellout crowd of 10,848 is the largest in the six-year history of BB&T Ballpark.
The Knights and Tides continue their series on Friday night. Kyle Kubat (1-1, 3.75) is scheduled to start for Charlotte. Pre-game radio coverage of the 7:04 p.m. game is set for 6:50 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.