Chiefs and Knights Split
Published on June 1, 2017
Story by Mike Drew
Photos by Jacqueline Mundry
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — After Tuesday night’s rain-out, both the Syracuse Chiefs and the Charlotte Knights got a beautiful 70-degree evening to play a doubleheader at NBT Bank Stadium.
The games were polar opposites of each other. In game one, the Knights (26-25) used three home runs to slug their way to a 12-5 win. Then, game two went to extra innings and the Chiefs (16-32_ emerged with a 3-2 win courtesy of Andrew Stevenson’s walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth.
“You drop the first one, what’s better than getting another chance right after that?,” Stevenson said. “Doubleheaders can be kind of tricky sometimes, but we split.”
Syracuse sent Austin Voth (1-6, 5.82 ERA) to the mound to start the opening game.
The result wasn’t pretty.
“Voth didn’t have his A-game tonight,” Chiefs manager Billy Gardner said. “He made some mistakes and paid for them. It was just one of those nights for him.”
The Knights pieced together five runs in the first inning. Right fielder Cody Asche knocked in two on an RBI single and Designated hitter Rymer Liriano followed with a bases-clearing double that scored three.
The Chiefs attempted to make things interesting against premier White Sox prospect Lucas Giolito (2-5, 5.44 ERA) in the third and fourth innings. In the third, First Baseman Matt Skole punched an RBI single to right. Shortstop Adrian Sanchez golfed an RBI double in the fourth to get the Chiefs within 5-2.
After that, the Knights turned on their power display. They went back-to-back in the fifth when Asche crushed a two-run shot to right and Catcher Aaron Blair followed with a solo shot to center.
For good measure, they added on in the sixth. First Baseman Danny Hayes clobbered a grand slam to right against reliever Michael Broadway to make it 12-3.
Voth’s final pitching line featured five innings, eight hits and eight runs. It was certainly not the performance Gardner was looking for in the first game of a twin bill.
The second game was much smoother.
Both starters gave their teams decent length in a seven-inning game. Charlotte’s Reynaldo Lopez (5-2, 3.81 ERA) went six and yielded two runs, only one earned. For the Chiefs, righty Dustin Antolin (2-1, 4.50 ERA) lasted four innings and gave up two earned runs.
Once again, the Knights scored first via an Asche RBI double in the second. Then, Left fielder Jason Bourgeois rolled an infield single to plate another run and make it 2-0.
The Chiefs got on the board in the third on designated hitter Clint Robinson’s RBI single to left.
In the sixth, left fielder Joey Butler scorched a two-out RBI double off the center field wall against Charlotte reliever Zack Burdi. The game was tied at two and would require extra innings.
Chiefs right-hander Rafael Martin kept the Knights scoreless in the top of the eighth, setting the stage for what happened next.
Butler hit an infield single to put the winning run on base. He got to second on a passed ball and third on a ground out by Catcher Jhonatan Solano.
Then came Stevenson.
Coming into Wednesday’s action, the number five prospect in the Nationals’ system had hit 2-20 on the Chiefs’ latest road trip.
“This is the first real adversity he’s had to face since he’s been here,” Gardner said. “Probably in his life.”
Stevenson took a 97 mile-per-hour fastball and ripped it into the right-center field gap to walk it off and hand the Chiefs a much needed 3-2 victory.
“You always want to be up in that situation,” Stevenson said. “It was something special.”
The two teams are at it again Thursday night (6/1) at NBT Bank Stadium in the final game of a three-game set. Right-hander A.J. Cole (1-2, 6.03 ERA) will start for the Chiefs. Charlotte will counter with right-hander Tyler Danish (1-3, 3.15 ERA). First pitch is at 6:35.