Charlotte Knights lose home opener to the Norfolk Tides

CorrespondentApril 12, 2014 

KNIGHTS_ACTION

Dylan Axelrod fires a strike in the first inning of the Knights home opener at BB&T BallPark in uptown Charlotte, Friday, April 11, 2014.

TODD SUMLIN — tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com

— It was the seven, eight, nine batters that showed up in Friday night’s home opener at BB&T Ballpark for the Charlotte Knights.

In front of a sellout crowd of 10,231, Denis Phipps, Tyler Saladino and Jared Mitchell combined to go 5-for-13 with six runs scored and three runs batted in, while the Knights’ top six turned in a 4-for-30 performance, with the Knights falling 8-6 to the Norfolk Tide in 12 innings.

The final blow came on a two-out double by Caleb Joseph off Knights right-hander Ryan Kussmaul (0-1). Preston Guilmet (1-0) stuck out the side in the 12th to record the win after already tossing a perfect 11th.

Phipps christened the ballpark with its first home run in the third inning – a no-doubter to left-center – to the game at 1, Saladino scored key runs in the third and seventh innings and Mitchell finished a triple short of the cycle.

Dylan Axelrod got the start and turned in a solid performance, allowing four hits and three runs while striking out eight in five innings.

The Tides took a 1-0 lead in the top half of the third inning after Julio Borbon drew a walk and then scored on a Jemile Weeks’ opposite-field double.

The Knights had an answer in the bottom half of the inning.

Phipps led off with his first home run of the season. A walk to Saladino and a Mitchell double off the wall gave Charlotte its first home lead.

In a smart base-running decision, Mitchell then tagged up and moved to third on a Blake Tekotte fly to center and came in to score on a single by Carlos Sanchez. Tides starter Steve Johnson then got Josh Phegley to ground into a double play to end the inning.

The Tides tied the game with a two-run fifth inning that could have been worse for the Knights if it weren’t for a diving catch by Mitchell in left field.

The Knights answered in the bottom half of the inning, when Mitchell sent a 3-0 fastball into the stands in right-center field for his team-leading second home run.

The Tides then played some long ball in the seventh inning, hitting two home runs (one solo and one with a runner on) to take a two-run lead. On the Tides’ second home run of the inning, a Knights fan threw the ball back on to the field to some of the loudest cheers of the night.

Again, the Knights answered with two runs (scored by Saladino and Mitchell) in the seventh to tie the game at 6.

Knights pitchers combined to strike out a season-high 15.

The two teams will play the second game of their weekend series at 7:05 Saturday at BB&T Ballpark.

TIDES 8, KNIGHTS 6 (12)

Friday’s box score

Norfolkabrhbi
Borbon cf4331
Weeks 2b4212
Paul rf5112
Joseph c5012
Wallace dh6000
Marrero 1b5010
Phelps 3b5000
Casilla ss5000
Berry lf5231
Totals44845

Charlotteabrhbi
Tekotte cf6011
Sanchez 2b6022
Phegley c4000
Davidson 3b5010
Wilkins 1b4000
Black dh5000
Phipps rf5121
Saladino ss3200
Mitchell lf5332
Totals43696

Norfolk0010203000028101
Charlotte003010200000690

E — Weeks. DP–Norfolk 1, Charlotte 1. LOB– Norfolk 6, Charlotte 5. 2B–Borbon, Weeks, Mitchell, Davidson, Sanchez, Marrero, Joseph. 3B–Borbon. HR—Phipps, Mitchell, Berry, Paul. SF–Weeks. SB–Borbon. CS—Saladino.

NorfolkIPHRERBBSO
Johnson4.244414
Jones2.042211
Huntzinger1.100000
Cruz2.010024
Guilmet W, 1-02.000004

CharlotteIPHRERBBSO
Axelrod5.043338
Heath2.023323
Putnam2.010003
Purcey2.010000
Kussmaul L, 0-11.022212

T-3:57. A-10,231.

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