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Knights top Tides to even series

Hays homers in 5-2 setback
Austin Hays hit his 10th home run of the season Saturday night at Harbor Park. (Les Treagus/Norfolk Tides)
August 31, 2019

Austin Hays homered to help pace Norfolk's offense, but the Tides were limited to just six hits in a 5-2 setback to the Charlotte Knights Saturday night at Harbor Park. 

Austin Hays homered to help pace Norfolk's offense, but the Tides were limited to just six hits in a 5-2 setback to the Charlotte Knights Saturday night at Harbor Park. 

Hays got the Tides on the board with a solo homer off of former Orioles farmhand Odrisamer Despaigne in the second inning, knotting the score at 1-1. It was the 10th homer of the season for the 24-year-old, who has hit nine of those 10 round trippers since the All-Star break. Hays, the #6 prospect in the Orioles system according to, has now hit safely in 22 of his last 26 contests. 

Despaigne (8-6), who pitched in 18 games (17 starts) for the Tides during the 2016 campaign, limited Norfolk to two runs on four hits over seven solid innings. He struck out nine and retired the final 11 Tides batters he faced, earning the win to help the Knights draw even through the first two games of the season-ending four-game set. 
Norfolk starter Bruce Zimmermann (2-3) took the loss after yielding five runs on six hits over six-plus innings of work. He walked three and struck out two while throwing 57 of his 99 pitches for strikes, but allowed two big hits to former Orioles farmhand Yermin Mercedes - an RBI double in the first and a two-run home run in the third. 
International League MVP Ryan Mountcastle singled in the first inning for his league-leading 158th hit of the season. That hit total is now the highest recorded by a Norfolk player in a season as an Orioles affiliate, surpassing a 157-hit campaign by Mike Cervenak in 2007. The franchise mark for hits in a season is 170, set by Kevin Elster in 1987.  
With the win, Charlotte pulled a game ahead of Durham - which lost to Gwinnett 3-2 Saturday - in the International League Wild Card standings. The Knights will need to finish ahead of Durham in the standings, as Durham holds any tiebreakers between the two clubs. 
The Tides and Knights will meet in the penultimate contest of the regular season Sunday night at Harbor Park, with first pitch set for 6:05. Tom Eshelman (2-2, 4.08) is slated to start for Norfolk and be opposed by left-hander Kyle Kubat (5-2, 5.30). 
Sunday is Fan Appreciation Night at Harbor Park, as hundreds of prizes will be presented to fans throughout the game. The Oriole Bird will be in attendance, and the Tides will wear their Pajarito de Norfolk jerseys as part of Minor League Baseball's Copa de la Diversion. There will also be a postgame fireworks celebration presented by Sentara, with gates opening at 5:00 pm. 
Notes: Earlier Saturday, RHP Branden Kline, LHP Tanner Scott and OF Dwight Smith Jr were placed on Baltimore's Taxi Squad. OF Ademar Rifaela was reinstated from the Temporarily Inactive List, and RHP Tayler Scott was activated to Norfolk's roster after he was optioned from Baltimore…The Tides wore special Margaritaville jerseys, which will be auctioned off with proceeds benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation…Mark Trumbo went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts in his fifth rehab game with the Tides…Martin Cervenka singled to extend his career-best hitting streak to 11 games.