LOUISVILLE, Ky - The Louisville Bats (16-21) split the final two games of the three-game set with the Charlotte Knights (18-17). The Knights won an offensive first game 7-6 and the Bats took the second in a close 5-4 game in extras. With the win, the Bats won their first home series of 3+ games since July 30-August 1 last season. A suspension due to rain on Saturday forced the game to be finished on Sunday, creating the first doubleheader of the year for the Bats.
On Saturday, the Knights came out of the gate quickly, getting three straight hits on three pitches and scoring two to begin the ballgame. Jose Lopez (2-2, 5.29) would allow two more runs in the second to put the Bats in a big hole. López would calm down for the rest of his outing, allowing no runs to the Knights for the last three of his 5.0 innings.
The Bats would score two in the fourth, and the comeback continued in the fifth, with Phillip Ervin launching a homer to left, his first of the year, along with the first Bats homerun in the six games since slugger Josh VanMeter's promotion. The momentum would swing back to the Knights in the sixth, with Charlotte adding one run to the lead to make the score 5-3.
Rob Refsnyder got the run back on the first pitch of the bottom of the sixth with a solo shot to center. Nick Longhi followed with a double, making it his third straight three-hit game, the first time a Bat has accomplished that feat since Yonder Alonso in 2010. He would later come around to score on an error by Knights catcher Alfredo Gonzalez, leveling the game at 5.
Charlotte scored in the top of the seventh, and play was postponed due to rain in the middle of the inning with the Knights leading 6-5. With play resuming on Sunday, the Bats tied the game in the bottom of the eighth at 6, but couldn't hold off the Knights, who scored in the top of the ninth with Charlotte reliever Jose Ruiz (1) recording the save in the bottom of the inning. The Knights' Matt Foster (1-0, 0.57) would get the win, and the Bats' Sal Romano (1-3, 5.75) would get the loss.
Despite losing a close first game, the Bats continued their hot hitting, scoring immediately in the first off former Bat Justin Nicolino (1-1, 5.34). They also had the benefit of not starting the game in a deficit like the outing on Saturday, as Lucas Sims (2-0, 4.23) was dealing early. The league-leader in strikeouts fanned six Knights in the first three innings.
Even though Sims was limiting baserunners and racking up the strikeouts, his problem was with the long ball. He gave up two solo shots to Charlotte, the first multi-home run game he's allowed all season. With the run support drying up, Sims would settle with a no-decision, but would still turn in a good outing with nine strikeouts, getting his second quality start in a row.
Entering the ninth, the Bats were ahead 3-2, but the Knights scored two off closer Anthony Bass to take the lead. With two outs in the bottom of the inning, Blake Trahan kept the game alive with a double and in his first start with the Bats, Narciso Crook scored him with a single to center, leveling the game. But with the bases loaded, the Bats couldn't get a run across, sending the game into extras.
Bass recovered from his two-run ninth, shutting down the Knights in the tenth. The Bats would be patient and draw three walks, allowing Phillip Ervin to score and getting the second walk-off win of the year. Bass (1-0, 2.37) would get the win, and Knights reliever Thyago Vieira (2-1, 4.05) would get the loss.
After an off-day on Monday, the Bats head out on a six-game road trip to New York to play Syracuse and Buffalo. They begin on Tuesday versus the Mets, who they went 1-2 against earlier this week. Right-hander Keury Mella (1-3, 5.77) is set to take the mound for the Bats. He will look to improve on his performance on May 8 against the Mets, when he gave up three runs in 3.0 innings in a losing effort.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.