LAWRENCEVILLE -- The Gwinnett Braves continued their strong start to 2013 with a doubleheader sweep of Charlotte, beating the Knights 6-4 and 2-1 on Saturday night in front of 6,311 fans at Coolray Field.
The first game was a combination of pitching and hitting. Marietta native and starting pitcher David Hale delivered five solid innings for the win, while Ernesto Mejia belted two home runs and drove in four runs.
The nightcap was a pitcher's duel, with Gwinnett (3-0) taking advantage of an infield error to plate a pair of unearned runs off starter Tony Pena, Jr. to claim the sweep.
The Braves jumped on starter Andre Rienzo in the first game by plating four runs in the first inning.
Joe Terdoslavich drove in the first of those with an RBI single to center to score Jose Constanza, followed by Mejia's mammoth three-run blast to left, a shot that bounced off the top of the tent beyond the retaining wall behind the Braves' bullpen.
"Ernie (Mejia) had a big day," Gwinnett manager Randy Ready said. "He's just crazy strong and is very connected with his swing. For as big as he is, his swing is very compact and is very powerful. I think that's why you see the numbers he's putting up."
Through the first three games, Mejia is hitting .400 with two homers and four RBIs.
Hale (1-0) would make those runs stick as he went five innings (each game was slated for seven innings) with two earned runs on five hits with one walk and five strikeouts.
Charlotte (0-3) pushed across a run in the third to make the score 4-1, but Gwinnett went back up 5-1 with a run on a wild pitch in the fourth.
Steve Tolleson of Charlotte, who finished 2-for-2 with an RBI, made the score 5-2 with an RBI double in the fifth, but Mejia put Gwinnett back up by four with another long homer to left in the sixth.
Charlotte made it interesting in the seventh, getting a pair of runs off a two-run single from Jordan Danks, but a nice defensive play by second baseman Blake DeWitt on a force out at second put an end to the rally.
In the second game, Gwinnett received a strong boost from its bullpen when David Carpenter came on in relief of starter Daniel Rodriguez and gave 3 scoreless innings with four hits and four strikeouts.
"We are getting good pitching, that is really setting the tone," Ready said. "Rodriguez is going bounce back and start on Tuesday so today was kind of a side day for him to get a little work. Carpenter got a little stretched out during the spring and was very, very effective tonight."
In the second, Pena was in a jam with runners at first and second with two out and looked like he was going to escape but a grounder off the bat off Matt Pagnozzi was booted by the infield, setting the stage for Sean Kazmar's two-run single to left.
Just like in the opener, the pitching made those runs count as Carpenter pitched into the fifth with no runs allowed.
Yohan Flande retired the side in the final two innings and looked solid, despite giving up a solo homer to Seth Loman, finishing with three strikeouts and one run on one hit for the save.
The second game also had a bit of a local flavor as Newton County graduate Deunte Heath pitched a scoreless inning of relief with one hit and three strikeouts.
Gwinnett will go for the four-game sweep today with the first pitch scheduled at 2:05 p.m.