LAWRENCEVILLE, GA - In a battle of strong pitching, the Gwinnett Braves' (67-65) bullpen couldn't match the Charlotte Knights (56-77). In the top of the eighth, the Knights plated the decisive runs to earn a 3-1 win in front of 8,087 at Coolray Field on Saturday night.
In the beginning, the game was a pitcher's duel between Gwinnett's Josh Collmenter and Charlotte's Michael Kopech.
The game stayed scoreless until the top of the fourth. With two outs, the Knights got a double from Casey Gillaspie and an RBI single from D.J. Peterson to plate the game's first run off Collmenter.
Gwinnett responded in the bottom of the fifth. Kyle Kubitza led off the frame with a single to right for the G-Braves' first hit of the night. With Kubitza running, the next hitter, Kade Scivicque , lined a single to right. Trying to throw Kubitza out at third, Charlotte right fielder Rymer Liriano's throw was wide of third for an error, allowing Kubitza to score the tying run.
Neither starter would give up anything for the rest of his outing. In his Coolray Field debut, Collmenter tossed 6.0 innings in his longest outing of the season, giving up one earned run on five hits while walking none and striking out four.
Kopech went 5.0 innings for the Knights, giving up one earned run on two hits with three walks and six strikeouts.
The game remained tied 1-1 going into the eighth because of strong relief work by Charlotte's Brian Clark (W, 6-1) and Gwinnett's Jason Hursh . But in the eighth, the visitors pulled ahead.
With Gwinnett reliever David Peterson (L, 2-4) in the game, the Knights took a 3-1 lead on an RBI fielder's choice from Jacob May and an RBI single from Gillaspie.
Philip Pfeifer kept the deficit at two in the top of the ninth, but the G-Braves couldn't mount a comeback as Brian Goldberg (S, 5) worked around two Gwinnett hits to pitch a scoreless ninth inning to finish the win.
Kubitza went 3-for-3 with a triple and a walk while Scivicque was 2-for-3 as the duo combined for all five of Gwinnett's hits. Ronald Acuna went 0-for-4 as his 14-game hitting streak came to an end.
For Charlotte, Gillaspie was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI while Jake Peter went 3-for-5.
In the series finale on Sunday afternoon, the G-Braves are scheduled to start Aaron Blair (7-7, 4.81 ERA) against the Knights' Steve Johnson (1-3, 5.55 ERA). First pitch at Coolray Field is set for 1:05 p.m. Tony Schiavone has the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM The Other Side of the River beginning at 12:35 p.m.
As part of Sunday Funday (sponsored by Georgia United Credit Union), fans are invited to play catch on the field before the game at approximately 12:05 p.m. Following the game, kids ages 12 and under are welcome to run the bases. For tickets, call 678-277-0340 or visit GwinnettBraves.com/tickets.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.