INDIANAPOLIS -- In a game where the Indians and Knights combined for 27 runs and 30 hits, it was a pair of seemingly inconsequential runs in the top of Thursday's eighth inning that eventually propelled Charlotte to a 14-13 win over Indianapolis at Victory Field in the second game of the International League playoffs.
Already leading 12-8 at the time, Charlotte tallied the first run of the eighth inning on an RBI single by Seth Loman that scored 2B Drew Garcia, who had doubled to lead off the inning. Moving to second on the single was 3B Brent Morel, who had walked.
Morel then advanced to third on a long flyout before scoring on a sacrifice fly by CF Trayce Thompson. That run put the Knights up 14-8 and proved to be the game-winner when Indianapolis mounted a five-run rally in the bottom of the frame.
Leading off the bottom of the eighth, rehabbing CF Starling Marte was hit by a pitch before moving to second on a single by SS Chase d'Arnaud and then scoring on a single by 3B Hector Luna. After a strikeout, d'Arnaud scored on a soft single by RF Dallas McPherson.
After a pitching change, DH Yamaico Navarro launched a three-run home run to left field to pull the Indians within one with only one out. However, RHP Jhan Carlos Marinez induced a pair of flyouts to right field to end the inning and the Tribe's final rally attempt. After Charlotte failed to score an insurance run in the top of the ninth, Marinez (1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 K, 1 HR) retired the side in order in the bottom of the ninth to earn the save.
Charlotte starter Charlie Shirek (4.2 IP, 11 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HR) couldn't make it out of the fifth inning and settled for a no decision, paving the way for LHP Santos Rodriguez (1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K) to pick up the win on 1.1 scoreless inning of relief. For Indianapolis, starter Gerrit Cole (2.0 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HR) suffered the loss after allowing eight runs in just two innings pitched.
The Knights jumped out to a quick 9-0 lead across the first two-and-a-half innings, including a four-run first. In that opening frame, Indiana native C Josh Phegley capped the scoring with a three-run home run, scoring Morel and Loman.
It was Phegley's second straight game with a home run against the Indians; on Wednesday, the Hoosier backstop launched a two-run homer in Charlotte's 8-1 win. Loman -- who had gone 3-for-3 with a home run on Wednesday -- drove in the first run on Thursday when Garcia scored on his single.
The Knights scored two runs in the second inning on a sacrifice fly by DH Greg Golson and back-to-back doubles by Garcia and Morel. In the third, the Knights scored a trio of runs, the first on alert baserunning by Phegley, who scored from third when a wild pitch rolled into no-man's land between the plate and the mound. SS Carlos Sanchez and Golson also had RBI singles in the frame.
Staked to a nine-run deficit, the Indians put together a three-run rally in the bottom of the third on a two-run double by d'Arnaud and an RBI single by Luna. However, the Knights took back two of those runs in the top of the fourth inning on another wild pitch and an RBI groundout by LF Jared Mitchell.
Indianapolis mounted a second rallying effort in the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring four runs on an RBI single by Marte and a three-run home run by d'Arnaud. The Indians added another run in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI double by 2B Anderson Hernandez, but Charlotte got that run back in the top of the seventh on an RBI double by RF Brandon Short.
In the loss, d'Arnaud went 3-for-5 with a three-run home run for Indianapolis and ended up with five RBI and three runs scored. The Indians shortstop has batted .556 (5-for-9) in two playoff games this season. Navarro also had a three-run home run and finished the game 3-for-5 with three RBI and two runs. For Charlotte, Phegley finished the game 2-for-4 with a three-run home run and two runs scored.
Facing elimination, the Indians are expected to send RHP Phil Irwin (3-0, 2.57) to the mound on Friday night in Charlotte. The Knights will likely counter with RHP Scott Carroll (2-3, 3.78). The first pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.
The game will be carried on WNDE 1260 AM-WFBQ-HD2, WNDE.com and via iheartradio, a mobile application for iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones with Howard Kellman and Will Flemming on the call. The pre-game show begins at 6:45 p.m.
Post-game quotes -- SS Chase d'Arnaud
(On staying consistent at the plate despite spending time in both Pittsburgh and Indianapolis in the past couple weeks)
"As cliche as it sounds, and it's something that people have heard time and time again, it's just staying within yourself. I think a big part of that is not letting your surroundings affect you, and that's one thing I'm trying to figure out on my own. On top of that, I just started to play like I've got something to prove, because in a lot of ways, I feel like I do. It's resulted in my playing with a chip on my shoulder and maybe playing with a little anger, and I don't know if that's something that's ever going to go away."
(On the team falling behind 9-0 early and coming back)
"I think our coaching staff did a great job of keeping us in it. (Hitting coach Jeff Branson) and (manager) Dean (Treanor) regarding the hitting, they were very supportive, saying, 'Alright, let's get back in this, let's chip away. Let's stay aggressive.' That became our mentality and our identity over the next seven innings after that, all the way up until the end. I feel like both sides have momentum offensively, and from a pitching standpoint, just the opposite."
(On carrying the momentum to Charlotte)
"When everybody's hitting together and stringing hits like that, it's contagious. We might be in for some more games like that coming up."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.