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Legends On Deck

Chiefs, Knights Split Twin Bill

Robinson went 3-for-4 with a home run and three runs scored in the first game. Photo by Gabe Rodriguez/Legends on Deck

In a surprise turn of events, Mother Nature has decided to allow baseball to be played in Syracuse.  After getting rained out Tuesday, the Chiefs hosted the Charlotte Knights Wednesday for a double header.  Tuesday was the sixth home rainout for Syracuse and eighth total for the season.  Baseball in April and May has been very difficult to say the least.

With the sky clear and the sun out, Syracuse sent Austin Voth to the mound to face Lucas Giolito.  Giolito if you recall, threw a 7-inning no-hitter his last time out.  His opponent?  The Syracuse Chiefs.  There was a Johnny Vander Meer (two no-hitters in a row) situation possible at NBT Bank Stadium.

Adrian Sanchez – Photo by Gabe Rodriguez/Legends on Deck

The Charlotte Knights entered game one with a record of 25-24 and in third place in the International League’s South Division.  They got off to an early start and weren’t very gracious guests.  Voth served up a five-spot in the first inning after allowing the first three batters to reach.  The big hit in the first came off the bat of Rymer Liriano who cleared the bases with a double.  If facing Giolito wasn’t tough enough, being five runs in the hole was nearly unfair.

It didn’t take long to end the suspense of back-to-back no-hitters for Giolito.  Adrian Sanchez led the game off for Syracuse with a single.  It was just his sixth hit in his last ten games so the timing was welcomed.  The Chiefs would threaten to get on the board in the first but it wasn’t meant to be.

Voth settled in after a difficult first and had a trio of 1-2-3 innings.  The Chiefs would cut the deficit to 5-2, but that was the closest they would come.  The Knights would score three more runs in their half of the fifth after back-to-back home runs by Cody Asche and Carson Blair essentially putting the game out of reach.  That wouldn’t be all the scoring Charlotte would do.  For good measure they would add four more runs in the sixth thanks to a grand slam by Danny Hayes.  It was his 12th home run of the season which puts him one behind the league lead.

“They have a lot of length in their lineup” Chiefs manager Billy Gardner said after the game, “Austin (Voth) wasn’t on his A-game and made some mistakes and paid for them” he said talking about the five-run first inning.

Syracuse would try and make it interesting in the bottom of the seventh scoring two runs (Matt Skole 2-run home run), that would be it as they drop the first game 12-5.

Game two starter Dustin Antolin. Photo by Gabe Rodriguez/Legends on Deck

After a short break, the teams came back out to battle in fresh fatigues.  Dustin Antolin would take the ball for the Chiefs in game two and would face Reynaldo Lopez.  An interesting fact that took a little time to set in as the game began.  Both pitchers for Charlotte Wednesday night were former Syracuse Chiefs a season earlier.  Giolito and Lopez were both in the deal that brought Adam Eaton to Washington from Chicago.

Antolin came out firing on all cylinders in the first inning setting down the Knights in order.  He’d run into trouble in the second inning allowing two runs, but would settle down going four solid innings striking out five.

The Chiefs would get one of those runs back in the bottom of the third inning on another Clint Robinson hit to cut the lead in half.  Robinson is hitting over .450 in his last 10 games after a slow start. “Clint has played in the major leagues the last couple of years so there was a little Triple-A hangover effect, but he’s turning it around” Gardner said of Robinson.

The two teams would exchange zeroes until the bottom of the sixth inning when the Chiefs would tie the game on a Joey Butler RBI double.  Butler would attempt to score later in the inning but was gunned down by Knights short stop Jose Vinicio.  The bullpen which was a little bit of a letdown in the first game, was a strong point in the second.  Pitchers Matt Grace and Rafael Martin combined for four innings of scoreless baseball allowing just one hit, a walk, and six strikeouts against a potent lineup.

The Chiefs would get runners on in the bottom of the seventh with the game 2-2, but couldn’t end it.  They needed a little more time.

With the bigger bats due up in the bottom of the eighth, it was setting up to be a magical ending to a well played and well pitched second game.  However it would be a more unlikely hero in this one.  After Joey Butler collected his second hit of the game, a passed ball, and a ground out by Jhonatan Solano, would move Butler to third, giving the Chiefs a chance to end it.

Andrew Stevenson, who has been struggling this season had the chance to play hero.  With the possible closer of the future for the White Sox, Zack Burdi, on the mound, it was a difficult order for the 23-year old Stevenson.  He would get the job done though taking a 1-0 pitch from Burdi in the gap in right-center field for the walk-off 3-2 win for the Chiefs.

I caught up with Stevenson after the game to talk about his late-inning heroics. “You always want to be in that situation.  It hasn’t been going good so far but you have to keep battling it’s all a part of it” Stevenson said.  “It definitely helps (his confidence) to get a hit off a pitcher like that with his kind of stuff” he added.

It was Syracuse’s first win in nearly a week and snapped a 5-game losing streak.  The two teams are back in action in the rubber game of the three-game series on Thursday night.  A.J. Cole goes for the Chiefs against the Knights Tyler Danish.

GAME NOTES

Charlotte’s third baseman Nick Delmonico extended his hitting streak to nine games in the first game of the double header, but would have it snapped in the second.  Yoan Moncada went 0-for-1 with three walks, but would score all three times he was on base in game one.

Chiefs first baseman Brandon Snyder pitched in relief and had a 1-2-3 inning for the second time this season.

Cody Asche extended his hitting streak to eight games after turning in a 3-for-7 performance in both games Wednesday with a home run and five RBI.

 

 

John Ginder

Site Co-Founder/Senior Editor and Co-Host at Legends on Deck® The Podcast
In the past John has been a part of such successful sites as MetsMerizedOnline and MetsMinors.net.John was born and raised in upstate New York and has a love of all sports but mainly baseball. He has grown used to heartache with his teams as he roots for the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres too.John has a loving and understanding wife and is the the proud father of two amazing boys.He also loves heavy metal music.

You can also reach out to John at jginder@legendsondeck.com