CHARLOTTE, N.C. – For the second consecutive series on this road trip, the Indianapolis Indians (52-46) were able to narrowly escape a sweep.
Kevin Kramer made up for a game-tying error in the ninth with a game-winning single in the eleventh, pushing the Tribe over the Charlotte Knights (47-53) by a final score of 6-4. Following a 2-5 road trip, Indy heads home to play eight games in six games beginning on Tuesday.
Sunday’s matchup featured lots of early offense.
Indianapolis jumped out to a 4-0 lead after an inning and a half, scoring two runs each in the first and second frames. Jose Osuna‘s two-run homer made it 2-0 in the top of the first, while a grounder from Kevin Newman scored two more in the top of the second (aided by a Charlotte error) and extended the Tribe’s lead to 4-0.
The Knights then came up with an answer in their half of the second, cutting Indy’s lead in half. Patrick Leonard doubled home two batters, scoring Charlotte’s only runs versus Indians starting pitcher Mitch Keller.
Keller, the Pittsburgh Pirates‘ top ranked prospect, turned in his most solid start at the Triple-A level to date. The righty gave up eight runs in his Indianapolis debut on June 30 and followed it up with five runs allowed on July 5, making his two-run outing on Sunday a new best. Keller worked four innings in this game, limiting the Knights to those two runs on three hits and four walks. He also struck out seven batters, contributing to his pitch count reading 87 after just four frames.
He started the 2018 MLB Futures Game for Team USA a week ago, tossing one perfect inning, explaining his layoff from playing with Indy.
Behind Keller, Josh Smoker threw one scoreless inning before Alex McRae took over. McRae tore through Charlotte’s lineup, keeping the Indians ahead 4-2 before the Knights rallied in the ninth.
Ryan Brett started the bottom of the ninth with a single for Charlotte, with two of the next three batters also singling to load the bases with one out against McRae. Matt Skole followed with a sacrifice fly, trimming Indianapolis’ cushion to 4-3, but also bringing the home team within an out of a loss. A fielding error Kramer at shortstop gave Charlotte life, though, as Ryan LaMarre reached and Charlie Tilson scored to even things up at 4-4.
McRae was replaced by Jesus Liranzo after the game-tying error, who was able to leave the winning run on third base despite issuing a walk.
Both teams came up empty in the tenth, making this the first time this season than the Indians played in an extra-inning game that went into the eleventh. They entered Sunday with a 1-3 record in extras, but moved to 1-0 in games that go eleven innings.
Austin Meadows immediately moved up to third base on a wild pitch and despite Osuna striking out, Meadows was able to touch home on a RBI single from Kramer. Wyatt Mathisen was able to add some insurance by scoring Kramer with a sac fly.
Liranzo, who held the Knights in the tenth, did the job again in the eleventh. He retired Charlotte in order in the inning, wrapping up a big victory for the Tribe.
The Indians will have a day off on Monday before kicking off a three-game set versus the Rochester Red Wings at Victory Field on Tuesday. Brandon Waddell (4-4, 4.95 ERA) will start for Indy, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.