Jim Gallagher has not seen a lot of action for the Knights this season playing in just two games before Saturday night’s series opener against the Durham Bulls, nevertheless he sure has made a lot of his chances.
The Duke alum had a nice round .500 batting average with four hits in eight trips including a homer and five runs batted in and was penciled in to start against a tough righty, Jake Odorizzi. At the end of the night his average dropped a few points because he went just 1-3 although that hit won his team a ballgame.
Gallagher polished off a marvelous week starting it with four hits against Norfolk, driving back to his home in Pittsburgh for the birth of his daughter Nola on Tuesday then put a bow on everything with an RBI double off Durham reliever Adam Liberatore (0-1, 1.93) in the seventh to give the Knights their third win of the young season, 5-4 before the largest crowd of the year at Knights Stadium, 6,188.
“It’s been a good week for me,” Gallagher said. “Nice to cap it off with a game winning hit. I had an at-bat off [Liberatore] last year and we actually worked out at the same facility, he’s from Pittsburgh too. I’m glad I got him. A couple of guys saw him at Double-A for most of last year so we had a pretty good scouting report on him. He has good stuff so I was fortunate to get a pitch up and out over the plate.”
Gallagher’s heroics could not have been possible had it not been for some timely hitting by the Knights earlier in the game that included a game tying two-run homer from Brent Morel off Odorizzi in the sixth.
“The timing of his home run was what you’re looking for,” said manager Joel Skinner. “Scoring runs with two outs is big. Gallagher’s also came with two outs. We try to get off the field with two outs and try to go on with two outs offensively and that’s what we did tonight.”
You would think there would be a little concern over the number of strikeouts, 13 in all and nine by Odorizzi, but Skinner downplayed it by giving the Bulls’ hurler credit for throwing the ball well. He wasn’t looking at how batters make out as much as getting good hacks while at the plate.
Charlotte starter Matt Zaleski did not have his best stuff giving up ten hits and four runs before being pulled after three batters in the sixth. He left two runners behind, but lefty David Purcey came in to clean up the mess without further damage retiring all three batters he faced to get out of the inning.
“Matt’s going to throw a lot of strikes and a lot of balls got up,” Skinner said about his starter. “They got a lot of base hits but he kept the damage control down to a minimum so from that standpoint I thought he threw the ball alright.”
Jeff Gray (1-1, 5.40) picked up the win in relief while Ramon Troncoso recorded his first save of the year with a perfect ninth.
The Knights continue their four-game wraparound series against the Bulls on Sunday sending RHP Jason Berken (0-1, 6.30) to the hill while LHP Alex Torres (0-0, 0.00) toed the rubber for Durham. Game time is 2:15 p.m.
Notes: Jason Bourgeous was one of 15 individuals named to the All Knights Stadium Team, but he had to wait until Saturday night to receive his plaque. That’s because the second baseman is now a member of the Durham Bulls.
Third baseman Brent Morel didn’t just do it with his bat in the win, he turned in the defensive play of the game diving to his left to snare a sure base hit and turn it into a 5-4-3 double play.
Matt Zaleski did not factor in the decision but before being lifted in the sixth he picked off Bulls’ DH Rich Thompson at first in the top of the fifth.
Outfielder Luis Durango got the day off so his hitting streak remains at eight straight.