Sports

Knights' manager reflects on season

Charlotte Knights manager Marc Bombard sat behind his desk in Knights Stadium on Monday pondering the past, the present and the future.

He had just watched his team end the season on a losing note dropping a 2-1 International League decision to the South Division champion Durham Bulls.

"It's been a long season when you have more L's than W's," said Bombard, who is the winningest active minor league manager with a record of 1,619-1,430 in 23 seasons. "But we went out and competed every day. You'd like to have a lot more W's than L's, sure. But some years it doesn't happen."

It was a sub-par season for the Knights who ended the year with a 63-80 record, dropping at least 80 games for the second time in the past three seasons.

There were some highlights, especially the fact that 14 Knights were called up to the parent Chicago White Sox.

That was the most satisfying thing for Bombard, who finished his first season as Knights manager.

"It is (satisfying) even if a guy's been there before and gets to go up," Bombard said. "But a guy that's never been there before then it's great. It's a great feeling I know for him and especially for us as a staff."

Six Knights had never tasted the major leagues -- infielder Danny Richar, infielder-outfielder Andy Gonzalez and pitcher Ehren Wassermann were called up during the season, and catcher Donny Lucy and pitchers Heath Phillips and Lance Broadway were September promotions when rosters expanded.

What does the future hold for Bombard?

"Go home, rest, spend time with the family," said Bombard who resides in Tampa, Fla, with his wife, Gema. "Walk the dog. Relax a little bit."

• ROLLINS STILL ROLLIN': Former Winthrop pitcher Heath Rollins continued his dominance for the Columbus Catfish. He was the winning pitcher in the opening game of the Class A South Atlantic League playoffs on Wednesday.

Rollins pitched seven innings, allowing only one run in an 11-2 victory over Augusta. He gave up five hits and two walks while striking out three.

Rollins finished the regular season with a 17-4 record, winning his 17th game with a four-hit, 2-1 victory over Charleston in the second game of a doubleheader, posting his first career complete game.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound right-hander tied for most wins in the SAL with Asheville's Keith Weiser who as 17-7. Rollins, an 11th round pick of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the June 2006 First-Year Player Draft, was second in the league in strikeouts (149) and fifth in innings pitched (159.1).

• FIRST VICTORY: Brandon Williams, a Tega Cay resident, picked up his first victory of the season Aug. 27 in State College's 8-3 short-season New York-Penn League win over Williamsport.

A right-hander, Williams pitched seven innings in his third start for the Spikes, a Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate. Williams allowed seven hits, three runs, walked one and struck out three.

Williams, a 29th-round selection of the Pirates in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, finished the season 1-2 with a 2.53 ERA in 13 appearances.

The 6-6, 230-pound Williams played at Fort Mill High School and USC Upstate.

• MAMMOTH MATCHUP: The Sept. 1 matchup between the Charlotte Knights and Durham Bulls featured a couple of the biggest pitchers in professional baseball.

Knights left-hander Andrew Sisco is 6-10 and weighs 210. The Bulls countered with Jeff Niemann, a 6-9, 260-pound right-hander.

Sisco was the winner in the 3-0 Knights victory while Niemann took the loss.

• EX-SAINT HONORED: Former Limestone College Saints right-hander Kevin Pucetas was selected the Most Outstanding Pitcher in the Class A South Atlantic League.

Pucetas, who was 15-4 with the Augusta GreenJackets, led the SAL in ERA at 1.86. He struck out 104 and walked only 21 and at home was 9-0 with an 0.91 ERA in 12 games.

Pucetas was the losing pitcher in the GreenJackets' SAL playoff opener loss to Rollins and Columbus.

A Spartanburg native, Pucetas was the San Francisco Giants' 17th round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. He was 7-1 with a 2.17 ERA for Salem-Keizer last year in the short-season Northwest League.

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