Terre Haute native Josh Phegley went 3-for-4 and drove in two to lead Charlotte to a 5-4 series opening victory over the Indianapolis Indians on Tuesday night at Knights Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
With the loss, Indianapolis falls to 54-51 on the season, while the win improves Charlotte’s record to 51-54. The victory gives the Knights a 1-0 advantage in the current series and draws them to with-in one game of the Indians in the season series, which now stands at 3-2 in favor of the Tribe.
The evening did not start out well for Knights starter Joe Bisenius. The right hander seemingly had everything possible go wrong in the opening frame as he allowed two hits, walked two, committed a run-scoring throwing error and let another run come across on a wild pitch.
Indians 2B Josh Harrison began the first inning outburst with a one-out single to left and after a double by LF John Bowker pushed him to third, Harrison trotted home when C Ryan Doumit reached on the throwing error by Bisenius. Then after a wild pitch allowed Bowker to come plateward, walks to 1B Matt Hague and 3B Andy Marte loaded the bases for DH Jason Jaramillo, who lifted a sacrifice fly to right to plate Doumit and give the Tribe a 3-0 lead.
However, after so much went wrong for Bisenius in the first frame, everything went so right from then on. After the first, Bisenius (6.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO) held the Tribe hitless and allowed just one base-runner over the next five innings to eventually earn the victory and improve to 3-0 on the season.
Following the bounce back effort from Bisenius, reliever Addison Reed (2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 SO) turned in an impressive Triple-A debut for the Knights as he struck out four over two innings of relief to earn his first hold. The lone blemish against Reed was an eighth inning solo home run off the bat of Harrison, which turned out to be the Indians only hit after the first inning.
The home run for Harrison (2-for-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI), which gave him the only multi-hit effort on evening for the Tribe, was his third on the season and first since returning from his time in Pittsburgh. However, it wouldn’t be enough as Knights’ closer Gregory Infante (1.0 IP) shut the door on the victory with a perfect ninth to earn his second save of the season.
While Charlotte hurlers were holding the Tribe hitless, the Knights offense put up just enough offense to give their pitching staff a well deserved victory. Charlotte began chipping away at the Indians’ early 3-0 advantage with a single tally in the bottom of the first, when Terre Haute, Indiana native and Indiana University star C Josh Phegley lined a two out single to left to plate SS Eduardo Escobar.
1B Dallas McPherson then blasted the Knights back into the contest with a two-run home run in the bottom of the third. After Escobar singled for the second time to lead off the frame, McPherson drove the ball over the center field wall for his eighth homer of the year to even the score at 3-3.
Phegley then gave Charlotte a lead they would not relinquish with another clutch two-out base knock in the fifth. After former Indians OF Lastings Milledge drew a base-on-balls and stole second, Phegley lined a base hit to left to plate Milledge and give the Knights a 4-3 lead.
Escobar then completed a fantastic night at the plate for the Knights with a run-scoring single in the bottom of the sixth that brought home 2B Andrew Garcia for what turned out to be the game-winning tally. Escobar (3-for-4, 2 R, 1 RBI) and Phegley (3-for-4, 2 RBI) were the offensive starts for Charlotte as they collected six of the Knights eight hits and drove in three of their five runs.
Indians starter Justin Wilson (6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 SO) suffered the loss to fall to 9-6 on the season after allowing four runs on seven hits over six innings of work. Tribe reliever Jose Ascanio (3.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO) turned in his second straight excellent performance out of the Indianapolis bullpen as he allowed just one run on one hit, while striking out six over three innings of relief.
Indianapolis and Charlotte now continue their four-game series with a matinee contest on Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. The Indians are expected to send LHP Garrett Olson to the mound, while the Knights are scheduled to counter with former Indiana State RHP Matt Zaleski.