Stripers Blank Charlotte in Series Opener

Franco three-run blast backs Sims’ scoreless outing in 5-0 win
Carlos Franco smashed a long three-run home run Monday to secure Gwinnett’s 5-0 win over Charlotte. (Bernie Connelly / Gwinnett Stripers)

CHARLOTTE, NC – The Gwinnett Stripers (8-14) ended a four-game losing streak with a 5-0 shutout of the Charlotte Knights (10-13) Monday night in game one of a three game series at BB&T Ballpark.

It was the second shutout of the season for the Gwinnett pitching staff, led Monday by the trio of Lucas Sims, Luke Jackson and Evan Phillips, who combined to allow five hits. The other shutout came April 23 in Mike Soroka’s 7.0-inning complete game at Rochester.

Sims (W, 1-1) picked up his first win of the season with 5.0 strong innings, allowing two hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He departed with a 2-0 lead and was spelled by Jackson (H, 2) who worked 2.0 innings with one hit, two walks and four strikeouts. Phillips closed the game with 2.0 innings with two hits, one walk and three strikeouts.

The Stripers scored their first two runs in the top of the fourth off of Colton Turner. Sean Kazmar, Jr. led off with a double to left and moved to third on a bunt single by Jaff Decker. Danny Santana then singled with a ground ball off the leg of Turner, enabling Kazmar to score from third for a 1-0 lead. Decker, who moved to second on the previous play, then scored on a sacrifice fly to right center by Ezequiel Carrera for a 2-0 lead.

In the top of the seventh, Carrera led off with a double to left and Jose Bautista followed with a walk. After two outs, Carlos Franco (4) drilled a long homer to right center off Kyle Kubat that cleared the stadium to make it 5-0. Franco’s long ball put him in a tie for the International League lead in home runs and regained his status atop the RBI leaderboard with 18.

Tyler Danish started the game for Charlotte. He pitched 3.0 innings with three hits, one walk and one strikeouts. Turner (L, 0-1) tossed 2.0 innings with three hits, two earned runs and two strikeouts. Kubat went 2.0 innings with three hits, three earned runs, one walk and three strikeouts. Thyago Vieira worked 1.0 inning with two hits, one walk and two strikeouts. Xavier Cedeno pitched the top of the ninth with one hit and two strikeouts.

At the plate, Decker and Santana were each 2-for-4; Decker had a double and a run while Santana had an RBI. Kazmar and Rio Ruiz were each 2-for-5. Franco was 1-for-4 with the home run and three RBIs.

Charlie Tilson led Charlotte with a 2-for-4 night.

The Stripers play game two of the series Tuesday night in Charlotte. Right-hander Matt Wisler (0-1, 2.25) starts for Gwinnett, while the Knights will counter with top right-handed prospect Michael Kopech (0-1, 2.14). First pitch is set for 7:04 p.m. Tony Schiavone has the play-by-play call on 97.7 and 93.5 FM The Other Side of the River beginning at 6:35 p.m.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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