Knights Knotes: Knights @ Bulls – April 9, 2016

knights knotesKNIGHT LIGHTS: The Charlotte Knights (Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) continue the 2016 regular season tonight with game three of their four-game series at 5:05 p.m. from Durham, NC against the Durham Bulls (Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays). The Knights dropped the opening game of the series – and of the season – on Friday by a score of 7-3, but charged back against the Bulls with an 8-6 win last night in game two. The two teams will play two more games in this series, before meeting again on Thursday, April 14th — the team’s third Opening Knight in Uptown Charlotte – at BB&T Ballpark in the start of a four-game set.

ABOUT LAST KNIGHT: Matt Davidson’s first inning home run set the tone, and Travis Ishikawa, Jason Coats, and Carlos Sanchez chipped in to help lead the Knights to an 8-6 win last night. The win was Charlotte’s first of the year and first against the Bulls since September 3, 2015 at BB&T Ballpark (11-7). RHP Erik Johnson, the reigning IL Most Valuable Pitcher, allowed four runs on seven hits over five innings and did not factor in the decision.davidson_military_web

WELCOME MATT: After a spring in which he hit .419 with five home runs, Matt Davidson started strong on Friday. In just his first at-bat of the game — and just his fifth of the season — the slugger launched his 44th career Knights home run to give the Knights an early 1-0 lead. Davidson finished the game 1-for-4 at the plate with the home run and two runs scored. Last season, the California native led the IL with 23 home runs. Last night’s home run was the 124th of his minor league career. He has recorded at least 20 home runs in each of the last five seasons. He also led the IL in games (141) and finished second in the IL in at-bats (528), and second in walks (62). Defensively, Davidson led all IL third baseman in fielding percentage (.971), as well as all IL third baseman in assists (281), and tied for first in double plays (24) with Syracuse third baseman Jason Martinson. Davidson was named by Baseball America as the Best Defensive 3B in the International League in 2015. Davidson is ninth in Knights franchise history in home runs (43), 10th in at-bats (1,010), and 10th in games (272). He is now just four at-bats away from moving into a tie for ninth place with Chris Clapinski. He is just one home run away from tying Josh Fields for eighth place and three way from tying Josh Phegley for seventh place.

TONIGHT’S STARTING PITCHERS:
CHA RHP Chris Beck (3-2, 3.15 w/CHA, 2015)
@ DUR RHP Jamie Schultz (9-5, 3.67 w/MTG, 2015)

Chris BeckKNIGHTS STARTING PITCHER: RHP Chris Beck gets the nod tonight for the Knights — his fourth career start against the Durham Bulls. Beck, who was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the second round of the 2012 draft, went 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in two starts against the Bulls last year (10.0 IP). Before that, he beat the Bulls in his first career start against the club back on 7/29 at BB&T Ballpark (5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 5 SO). It was just his second career Triple-a start and first career Triple-A win. Overall in three games against the Bulls, Beck is 1-1 with a 2.40 ERA (15.0 IP, 12 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 14 SO). Beck made his Major League debut last season with Chicago in game two of a doubleheader against Baltimore (L, 6.0 IP, 10 H, 5, R, 4 ER, 3 SO). Beck is a product of Georgia Southern University.

BULLS STARTING PITCHER: RHP Jamie Schultz gets the nod in game three of the four-game series tonight from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, NC. Schultz, a native of Albany, NY, was a 14th round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2013 draft out of High Point University (High Point, NC). Last season, the 24-year-old righty compiled a 9-5 record with a 3.67 ERA in 27 games for Double-A Montgomery. He struck-out 168 batters in 135.0 IP and was a Mid-Season Southern League All-Star. This will be his first career Triple-A start tonight.

CHARLOTTE’S WEBB: RHP Daniel Webb earned his first win of the season last night after allowing one run on three hits over two innings of work out of the bullpen. The Paducah, KY native went 2-1 with a 3.81 ERA last season in 18 games with the Knights. The 2016 season is his third with Charlotte. He was 1-1 with a 2.96 ERA in 21 games with the club in 2014.

GETTING ISHI WIT IT
: 1B Travis Ishikawa ripped four hits last night with the Knights and finished the game 4-for-5 with two runs scored, one double, and one RBI. The 32-year-old last had a four-hit game on April 18, 2011 when he was a member of the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies. Ishikawa was signed by the Chicago White Sox as a free agent on February 9. He last played for the Knights in 2013 – appearing in 34 games for the club during their final season at Knights Stadium in Fort Mill, SC.

LOS IS MORE: 2B Carlos Sanchez, who returned to the Knights for his fifth season with the club on Thursday (2012-pres.), launched his first home run of the season last night. Sanchez went 2-for-5 with two runs scored. Just 23 years old, Sanchez is ranked among some of the Charlotte Knights all-time franchise leaders in a number of categories. Sanchez is now fourth in hits (290), fifth in at-bats (1,048), and 11th in runs scored (134). He is also just nine games away from 10th place in games (Matt Davidson has 273 for 10th place) and is in a tie for fifth place with eight triples.

COATS OF ARMOR: OF Jason Coats added a three-hit night last evening in Durham. Coats, who had 81 RBIs last season with the Knights, also led the way in that department last night as he drove in three runs. The TCU standout, who is in his fourth professional season since being drafted by the White Sox in the 29th round of the 2012 draft, has compiled at least 80 RBIs in each of his first three campaigns. He entered this season ranked by MLB.com as the number 17 prospect in the Chicago White Sox system.Jason Coats_Charlotte Knights 2015

OPENING DAY ROSTER ANNOUNCED: The Charlotte Knights Opening Day roster was officially announced on Thursday and features 12 players who have worn a Knights jersey previously (11 from last season). Those players are Chris Beck, Scott Carroll, Erik Johnson, Terance Marin, Blake Smith, Daniel Webb, and position players Jason Coats, Matt Davidson, Leury Garcia, Carlos Sanchez, and Kevan Smith. 1B Travis Ishikawa appeared in 34 games with the Knights in 2013.

NEW MANAGER FOR 2016: Julio Vinas began his first season at the helm of the Knights – and first as a Triple-A manager – on Thursday. Last night, Charlotte’s skipper earned his first career Triple-A victory – and the 277th of his managerial career. Vinas, a native of Miami, FL is now in his sixth overall season as a manager in Chicago’s system. He spent the last three years as manager of Birmingham and guided the club to a SL Championship in 2013.

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