The Louisville Bats snapped a four game losing Saturday night with a 4-3 victory over the Charlotte Knights. The teams went back and forth all night in a game that saw three ties and three lead changes but it was the Bats who had the final say.
After Chris Valaika was hit by a pitch to start the seventh, Willie Harris singled to move Valaika to third. The next batter, Brian Peacock, lifted a deep fly ball to the right field corner. Although it stayed in the park, Valaika was able to tag and score from third to give the Bats a 4-3 edge.
That’s all the Bats would need as they once again received excellent work out of their bullpen. Nick Christiani (2-5) worked perfect seventh and eighth innings to pick up the win and JJ Hoover worked a perfect ninth for his ninth save of the season. The Bats bullpen has now retired 24 straight hitters and tossed nine straight scoreless innings.
Louisville starter Sean Gallagher was once again virtuous for the Bats. Gallagher went six innings giving up three runs on eight hits while walking two and striking out three. The Bats’ righty was credited with his tenth quality start of the season.
“(Gallagher) is able to go deep into games and his arm is in great shape.” Bats manager David Bell said. “He threw 105 pitches tonight and could’ve gone another inning. He’s been so durable all year for us.”
All four Bats runs were scored against former Bat Scott Carroll (2-4). Carroll was released by the Reds July 9 after spending his entire career in the Reds organization.
“It was nice to see him get picked up right away,” Bell said. “We’re happy for him.”
For the third time in as many games, the Knights (65-50) took the initiative in getting on the scoreboard. Jim Gallagher gave the Knights a 1-0 lead when he singled home Jared Mitchell with two outs in the second.
The lead didn’t last long, though. After Brian Peacock doubled with two outs in the third, Denis Phipps launched a two-run home run to give the Bats a 2-1 lead. It was Phipps’ ninth home run of the season.
Charlotte came right back in the fourth. Dan Johnson led off the inning with his league-leading 25th home run of the season to tie it 2-2. Later in the inning, Jim Gallagher hit a sacrifice fly to score Mitchell, giving the Knights a 3-2 lead.
Back came the Bats, getting a solo homer from Mike Costanzo in the bottom of the fourth to tie it 3-3. It was Costanzo’s eighth homer and 33rd RBI of the season. He has now hit safely in 14 of his last 18 games.
The Bats (44-71) won for just the 18th time (18-55) when their opponent scores first. Their 21st come from behind win gives them a 1-2 record to start the month of August. Louisville has not had a winning moth of baseball since April of last year.
The Bats go for a split of the series Sunday night. Chad Reineke (4-7, 4.46 ERA) will take the mound for the Bats against Charlie Shirek (9-4, 3.68 ERA). Shirek was supposed to start for the Knights Saturday but was pushed back a day without any official reason being given. First pitch for Sunday’s affair is set for 6:05 p.m. Jake the Diamond Dog will make an appearance and kids can run the bases after the game.