Kopech, Offense Lead Knights Past Tides 4-2
21-Year-Old Right-Hander Backed by Two Home Runs to Win Triple-A Debut
(NORFOLK, VA) -- RHP Michael Kopech tossed five solid innings in his Triple-A debut, and the Charlotte Knights used two home runs to beat the Norfolk Tides by a score of 4-2 on Monday in the opening game of their four-game series from Harbor Park in Norfolk, VA. The win was Charlotte’s fourth straight and eighth over their last 11 games.
Promoted to the Knights from Double-A Birmingham on Saturday and added to Charlotte’s active roster on Monday, Kopech (1-0, 3.60) allowed just two runs over five innings pitched en route to his first career Triple-A victory. The Longview, TX native allowed a run in each of the first two innings, but then settled in nicely over his final three frames. In all, the Southern League’s strikeout leader fanned four over his five frames. He gave up six hits and two walks while tossing 92 pitches (58 for strikes).
Down by a score of 2-0, the Knights battled back in the top of the fifth inning against Norfolk starter Jayson Aquino (3-8, 4.33). D.J. Peterson led the fifth inning off with a walk. Casey Gillaspie then followed with a two-run home run to tie the game at 2-2. The home run was Gillaspie’s 12th of the season. Three batters later, Eddy Alvarez singled, which set things up for Jake Peter. With Alvarez on first and two outs, Peter mashed the first pitch he saw over the right field fence to give the Knights a 4-2 lead. That was all they needed on Monday.
The Charlotte bullpen was solid over the final four innings of the game. LHP Matt Purke struck-out two batters over two innings to earn his International League-leading 11th hold of the season. RHP Al Alburquerque tossed a scoreless eighth inning, while RHP Brandon Brennan loaded the bases in the ninth inning, but got out of a tough jam to earn his fourth save of the season.
Aquino was charged with the loss after he allowed two home runs and four runs in the fifth inning. He walked two batters and struck-out five over 5.2 innings pitched.
The Knights will continue their four-game series against the Norfolk Tides on Tuesday from Harbor Park in Norfolk, VA. Pre-game radio coverage of Tuesday’s 7:05 p.m. game will begin at 6:50 p.m. on ESPN Charlotte (730 AM) and CharlotteKnights.com. The “Voice of the Charlotte Knights” Matt Swierad will have the call for all of the action.
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