Charlotte belted three home runs as they rolled to a 12-3 win over the Tides in front of 8,794 fans Saturday night at Harbor Park.
Norfolk entered the contest having allowed the fewest homers in all of Triple-A baseball, but Charlotte used three-run blasts from Jose Lopez and Justin Greene and a solo shot from Josh Phegley to take the opener of the two-game set. The win was Charlotte’s eighth consecutive victory as the Knights extended their divisional lead to 11.0 games.
After a scoreless first three innings, Charlotte plated three fourth inning runs off of Zach Petersime (0-1), who was making his first start at the Triple-A level. The Knights extended their lead to 6-0 in the fourth on Lopez’ homer, then pushed their lead to 10-0 in the sixth on the home runs by Phegley and Greene.
The offense was more than enough for Charlotte starter Matt Zaleski (5-5), who yielded two runs on five hits in six innings of work. Zaleski walked three and struck out one.
Ryan Flaherty paced Norfolk’s offense with two hits, including a solo homer in the sixth inning. Flaherty now has three hits in 21 at-bats over five rehab games with the Tides.
Petersime became the 25th different pitcher to start a game for the Tides this season, tying the International League record. David Walters also made his Tides’ debut in relief to become the 73rd different player to appear for Norfolk this season. The 73 players is just one shy of matching the IL record of 74 players used by the 2003 Louisville Bats.
With the loss, Norfolk remained 4.0 games back in the IL Wild Card race with 15 games remaining.
The Tides end their homestand Sunday night vs. Charlotte, with first pitch from Harbor Park set for 6:15. Jason Berken (4-5, 3.56) will take the hill for Norfolk against right-hander Scott Carroll (3-5, 5.19).