CHARLOTTE, NC - The Charlotte Knights (55-64) held off the Gwinnett Braves (51-66) in a 12-10 slugfest on Wednesday night at BB&T Ballpark.
The G-Braves took a 1-0 lead as Todd Cunningham (6) slugged a two-out solo home run to right in the top of the first off Charlotte starter Bobby Doran. Gwinnett's lead grew to 2-0 in the top of the second as Steve Lerud's infield single scored Sean Kazmar from third.
But the Knights quickly tied things up in the bottom of the second. With one out, Andy Wilkins hit his International League leading 27th home run to left off G-Braves' starter Daniel Rodriguez. After a single by Marcus Semien, a walk by Michael Taylor and a single by Carlos Sanchez loaded the bases, Jared Mitchell plated the tying run with a sacrifice fly to left.
In bottom of the third, Charlotte surged ahead for good by plating three runs off Rodriguez for a 5-2 lead. The big blow was a two-run double by Josh Phegley.
The G-Braves got a run back in the top of the fourth as Lerud (4) drilled a Doran pitch over the right field wall to make it 5-3.
However the Charlotte lead grew to 10-3 as the Knights enjoyed a five-run bottom of the fourth off Gwinnett reliever Zach Stewart. Again it was Phegley (18) who led the charge, as the Charlotte catcher pounded a three-run homer to left.
The G-Braves kept the pressure on in the top of the sixth as Joe Leonard (1) connected on a two-run homer off Charlotte reliever Scott Snodgress to cut the deficit to 10-5. It was Leonard's first ever Triple-A home run and his first blast since August 4, 2012 while playing for the Mississippi Braves.
Gwinnett pulled closer with three runs in the top of the seventh, as with two outs, Joey Terdoslavich walked and scored from first on a double to right by Brandon Boggs. Elmer Reyes (2) lifted a two-run homer to left off Snodgress to put the G-Braves within two at 10-8.
But, in what would become the decisive inning, G-Braves reliever Terry Doyle gave up two runs in the bottom of the seventh. Phegley and Wilkins each plated runs to extend the Knight's lead to 12-8.
In the top of the eighth, Cunningham would pull Gwinnett within two once again at 12-10 with a two-run double to left off reliever Parker Frazier.
But Ryan Kussmaul would snuff the G-Braves rally by tossing a scoreless top of the ninth to preserve the Charlotte victory.
Rodriguez (L, 6-13) pitched 2.0 innings with seven hits, five earned runs, two walks and three strikeouts. Stewart was tagged for six hits and five earned runs in 2.0 innings. He also walked two and struck out three. Ryan Buchter gave Gwinnett 2.0 solid innings of relief with one hit, two walks and one strikeout. Doyle went 1.0 inning with three hits, two earned runs and one strikeout. Pedro Beato pitched a scoreless bottom of the eighth with one hit.
Doran (W, 3-1) worked 5.0 innings with seven hits, three earned runs, three walks and three strikeouts. Snodgress went 2.0 innings, gave up four hits and five earned runs with two walks. Frazier worked 1.0 inning, allowed three hits with two earned runs while striking out one. Kussmaul (S, 5) went 1.0 inning with one hit.
Offensively for the G-Braves, Cunningham was 4-for-5 with a homer, single, two doubles and three RBIs. Lerud was 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs. Leonard was 2-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs. Gwinnett's four homers were the club's most in a single game this season.
Phegley had the big night for Charlotte by going 3-for-4 with a homer, two doubles, three runs and six RBIs. Taylor was 3-for-3.
The Gwinnett Braves return home on Thursday for the start of an eight-game homestand. Game one of a four-game series against the Norfolk Tides begins at 6:35 PM. Right-hander Cody Martin (6-7, 3.73) will start for the G-Braves, while the Tides will counter with right-hander Steve Johnson (0-0, 6.46). Tony Schiavone will have the play-by-play call beginning at 6:20 PM on WDUN.com, GwinnettBraves.com, Tune-In Radio and the MiLB First Pitch app.
Tickets are on sale now at the Coolray Field Ticket Office, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com to purchase.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.