The Buffalo Bisons sputtered through the first four innings. The pitching wasn't crisp. The offense had no punch. By the middle of the fourth they had dug themselves a 4-0 hole against the Charlotte Knights.
After cutting the lead to 4-2, the Herd got their bats going in the seventh, scoring four runs en route to an 9-4 win at Coca-Cola Field Friday night.
The Bisons couldn't do much off Charlotte starter Carson Fulmer who gave up two runs, only one earned, on just two hits over five innings. By the time Matt Purke got into the game, the Herd was ready for an outburst.
"Sometimes you face a pitcher who's on and Fulmer's got really good stuff," said Bisons outfielder Jake Elmore. "He's 94-95 with a good cutter and a good slider as well, so you just hang in. You just try to put together good at-bats and then fortunate for us we got him out of the game. Sometimes it's relieving when someone else comes in the game. Anybody. You could bring in Ryan Nolan. We hadn't been hitting this guy so bring in literally anyone else and sometimes that boosts confidence."
It sure worked for the Herd as Jason Leblebijian started the Bisons seventh inning off with a triple and scored on an RBI ground out from Ian Parmley. Jonathan Diaz belted his own triple then scored on a single by Shane Opitz to tie the game, 4-4.
Opitz took second on a passed ball then scored on a single from Jake Elmore to give the Herd their first lead of the game. Elmore then stole second, uncontested, putting him in position to score on a ground-rule double from Mike Ohlman to left field to extend the lead to 6-4.
The Bisons scored three times in the eighth on a double from Parmley, a single from Christian Lopes and a bases-loaded walk drawn by Ohlman.
Extra-bases please: Of the Bisons 10 hits, six were extra-base hits, including three from the bottom four hitters in the lineup.
"The bottom of the order came through and it woke everybody up," Bisons manager Bobby Meacham said. "A lot of good situational hitting so it was fun to watch. There was a lot of solid contact. It was good to see. It seemed like the dam just kind of broke loose and guys were hitting the ball right on the barrel. There were a lot of hard-hit balls and obviously we got a lot of runs out of it."
When walking hurts: In the second, Bisons starter Jarrett Grube issued a one-out walk to Carson Blair, who came around to score when Rymer Liriano hit a screaming double off the left-centerfield wall. That set up a two-run home run from Jason Bourgeois to give the Knights a 3-0 lead in the second.
Another walk came around to score in the fourth when Grube issued a lead-off walk to Bourgeois. He advanced to third on a double by Everth Cabrera and scored on a ground out from Yoan Moncada for a 4-0 Charlotte lead.
Bases loaded: The Bisons loaded the bases in the fifth thanks to an error, a walk and a hit batter. A single from Opitz scored the Herd's first run of the game while a sacrifice to center from Lopes scored another. But Elmore grounded into a double play ending the inning and cutting the Bisons' rally short.
Top prospect: Charlotte second baseman Yoan Moncado went 2 for 4 with an RBI and two stolen bases Friday. Moncado is the top ranked prospect in baseball by both MLB.com and Baseball America.
MLB Rehab: Chicago White Sox reliever Jake Petricka began his Major League Baseball rehab assignment on Friday. He pitched the sixth inning on Friday, issuing one walk with one strike out. He is on the White Sox 10-day disabled list with a right lat strain.
Attendance: The official paid attendance was 8,178.
Roster moves: Right-handed pitcher Dominic Leone was activated by the Bisons after being option by Toronto on Tuesday. Leonel Campos was optioned back to Buffalo on Friday after being recalled on Thursday.
Up next: The Bisons and Knights meet again Saturday, the annual Star Wars Night in Buffalo, with a 6:05 p.m. first pitch. T.J. House gets the start for Buffalo while Charlotte did not list its starter. The teams close out the series at 1:05 p.m. Sunday.