By Jason Huber. May 29, 2017. CHARLOTTE, NC — Charlotte had one more rally left in them Monday night and that made it a Memorial Day to remember. Pinch hitter Cody Asche capped a come-from-behind, 4-run rally in the 9th by slugging a three-run, “walk off” home run for a 9-7 win over the Buffalo Bisons (26-22).
COVER IMAGE: Courtesy of www.charlotteagenda.com
With the win, the Knights split the four game series with Buffalo, 2-2.
After what had been a weekend of rallies and comebacks, Monday’s game was more of the same. The Knights (25-24) blew a 5-3 lead in the seventh inning and entered the bottom of the ninth trailing, 7-5. On Charlotte’s first at-bat in the final inning, designated hitter Nicky Delmonico hit a solo homer to make it a one-run game and prompted the almost 8,000 fans in BB&T Ballpark to put on their rally caps.
With singles from right fielder Rhymer Lirano and catcher Carson Blair, the stage was set for Asche, who has had many ups and downs the last couple of years in both the major and minor leagues.
Being here is fun. Charlotte is a great place.
During his first season in the Chicago White Sox organization, Asche has been looking to resurrect a professional career that started in 2011 with the Williamsport Crosscutters, a Class A short season affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. He has been up and down the Phillies organization, including four stints with the parent club, the last when he appeared in 71 games in what is colloquially called, “the show.”
“Being here is fun,” Asche said postgame to reporters. “Charlotte is a great place. It is the one place in the International League I hadn’t ever been to. But I am glad I am here and circumstances set aside, I love the guys and being here. My wife and I love it.”
On just one pitch, Asche hit a 381-foot homer over the Carolina Medical Center deck for a three-run walk off HR for the Knights and reminded Charlotte fans why the Phillies spent a Round 4 draft choice in 2011 for the University of Nebraska alum.
“I was just trying to be on time for the pitch,” Asche said. “Usually against bullpen guys like that you have to take one pitch to be on time. I was pitched the fast ball and I was able to take the barrel with it and the rest is history.”
Being optioned to Charlotte just two weeks ago, Asche has hit .370 in his 27 at-bats, with two home runs.
The last couple of years Asche’s primary role has been as a pinch hitter. He is quick to acknowledge what he has learned and using that experience to his advantage.
Just put it in the barrel and see what happens.
“When you’re pinch hitting, you have to be ready to take your hacks off and play a ball hard,” Asche said. “Just put it in the barrel and see what happens.”
Charlotte finished their seven-game homestand with a 3-4 record, but it was a weekend of comebacks in their series against the Bisons, for both teams.
“Our pitchers have struggled and we are short-staffed,” Asche pointed out, “so some guys have been extended and have had to really battle. We feed off on that as hitters and we go all in every inning. We try to extend the inning on offense to give them some rest. We were able to stick around long enough the last few nights to get the win.”
Knights starting pitcher Will Lamb exited the game in the 4th inning after giving up a one-out solo home run, a single and a walk. He allowed three runs while throwing five strikeouts before giving way to relief pitcher Giovanni Soto, who held the Bisons scoreless for 1.2 innings. Matt Purke took the mound for the Knights to start the 6th inning, but was yanked with no outs in the 7th after giving up a home run, a single and a walk, consecutively.
That brought on righthander Kelvis Valerio, who was seeing his first action in Triple A after being brought up earlier in the day from the Winston-Salem Dash, the White Sox’s Class A Advanced affiliate, where he spent the entire 2016 season and posted an ERA of 4.62.
Valerio pitched a solid three innings while only allowing one earned run on five hits and throwing four strikeouts to pick up the win.
The Knights’ four pitchers throughout the game combined for 109 pitches.
Moving back above a .500 record, Charlotte heads back on the road to face Syracuse with the confidence gained after two straight comebacks.
“It feels really cool,” Asche said. “A walk off (home run) is one of the really cool things about being a hitter in baseball.”