The Norfolk Tides under the management of Bobby Dickerson have become a much more competitive team than under Gary Allenson and this was nowhere more in display than last night where after dropping three of the last four games to the Knights the Tides pulled victory from the jaws of defeat by coming back and then holding the Knights before having to pull out a victory in the 9th inning.
Tim Bascom started the game for the Tides but got into trouble in each of the second, third and fourth innings. Bascom would only pitch 3.2 innings giving up 5 runs on 7 hits including a 2 run home run by Josh Kroeger along with 2 walks and a hit batsman before being pulled by Bobby Dickerson with two outs in the top of the 4th inning. Dickerson made the right move putting in Jim Miller who had pitched a one-two-three 9th inning on Friday. Miller entered the game with two on and two out and got Josh Kroeger to fly out. Miller pitched two more innings of scoreless relief getting out of a bases loaded and one out situation in the top of the 5th inning before sending the Knights down in order in the 6th. In fact in my opinion it was the switch to Miller and Miller’s gutsy performance that put the Tides in position to be able to win the game.
Miller was followed in the 7th inning by Pat Egan who also ran into trou8ble but was able to pitch his way out of it and Alberto Castillo who did the same in the 8th inning.
While the relief corps bent but didn’t break the Tides offense chipped away at the Charlotte lead. The Tides scored two in the bottom of the 2nd inning when Rhyne Hughes walked and was driven home by a Paco Figueroa double. Figueroa scored on a Blake Davis single. The Tides scored again in the bottom of the 4th and once again it was the Hughes-Figueroa and Davis combination that plated the run. Hughes singed and was sacrificed to 2nd base on a bunt by Figueroa. Hughes then scored on Davis’ second RBI single. The Tides scored again in the bottom of the 5th to narrow the margin to 5-4. Matt Angle singled and moved to second on a Robert Andino single. The next batter was AAA All-Star bound Jeff Salazar who plated Angle with another single.
In the bottom of the 7th inning the Tides took the lead on a combination of good hitting and two errors in one play by the Knights. Matt Angle walked to lead off the inning and moved to second as Robert Andino collected another single. Jeff Salazar popped up for the first out and was followed by Nolan Reimold who walked to load the bases. Then in what proved to be a mistake that would haunt the Knights Rhyne Hughes grounded to first base and First Baseman Josh Kroeger threw to Shortstop Robert Hudson for the force out at second. Then Hudson trying to get the double play and threw the ball away. Angle scored to tie the game but then for Charlotte the unthinkable happened, Josh Kroeger got to the ball and threw to the plate to attempt to get Andino who was driving for home. Kroeger’s throw went awry and Andino scored to give the Tides a 6-5 lead.
Neither side scored during the 8th inning. In the 9th inning closer Denis Sarfate took the hill for the Tides to try to get the save. Sarfate who until late was lights out in relief, especially when closing had blown the save and lost Thursday’s game had control trouble and never really looked comfortable. He walked Donny Lucy and Lucy advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Brent Morrel. Robert Hudson doubled to score Lucy before Sarfate after a meeting on the mound with Bobby Dickerson struck out Alejando De Aza and got Fernando Cortez to ground out to end the inning.
The teams went to the bottom of the 9th knotted at six runs apiece and it looked like that Charlotte reliever Clevlan Santiliz would get the game into extra innings. Santiliz had come into the game in the 8th and sent the first five Tides that he faced down in order to include 5 strikeouts. However with 2 outs Jeff Salazar walked giving the Tides a glimmer of hope. At this point Nolan Reimold who had not had a good game offensively stepped into the batter’s box to face the Charlotte reliever. Reimold slammed a drive down the right field line into the corner which eluded Charlotte Right Fielder Stefan Gartrell. Salazar running all the way scored easily from 1st base and in doing so brought the victory to the Tides.
Santiliz (0-4 5.97 ERA) got the loss while Denis Sarfate (1-1 4.25 ERA) despite blowing the save got the win for the Tides. The Knights had 6 runs on 13 hits but committed the two critical errors in the 7th inning and left 14 men on base. The Tides had 7 runs on 10 hits with no errors stranding 7 runners. The teams meet again tonight in Charlotte with left hander Chris George (3-3 4.44 ERA) taking the hill for the Tides against Knight’s right-hander Lucas Harrell (6-7 4.04 ERA). The Tides will be on the road this week in Charlotte and Gwinnett before returning for two games with the Braves prior to the AAA All-Star break.
In Boston today the Orioles behind the pitching of Brian Matusz who went 7 innings allowing only 2 hits and a strong offensive performance defeated the Red Sox at Fenway Park by a score of 6-1 after having been beaten in the first two games of the weekend series.
Peace and Happy Independence Day,