Hester belted a 2-2 offering from Wes Whisler (0-1) just over the fence in left field, giving the Tides their second straight win and their fourth straight victory over the Knights. The homer was one of three hits on the night for Hester, and the walk-off blast was the first for Norfolk since Adam Donachie clubbed a 10th inning homer to beat Gwinnett on July 23, 2011.
Oscar Villarreal (1-0) picked up the win with three shutout innings, capping a stellar night for the Tides bullpen. Villarreal combined with three other relievers to allow just five hits and three walks while striking out six in 7.1 shutout innings.
In three outings this season, Villarreal has yet to surrender a run in 7.2 innings, holding opposing batters to a .080 average (2-for-25).
Norfolk trailed the contest 3-1 in the seventh inning, but Hester reached on a one-out single before Matt Antonelli tied the contest with a two-run homer, his first of the season. Antonelli also drew two more walks in the contest, upping his season total to 10 walks drawn in seven games.
Tides starter Dana Eveland was effective in his Harbor Park debut, taking a no-decision after yielding three runs on 10 hits in 6.2 innings of work. Eveland surrendered all three runs in a five-hit third inning before settling down and retiring 13 of the next 16 batters he faced. He finished with two walks and three strikeouts, throwing 57 of his 91 pitches for strikes.
Conor Jackson had four singles to lead Charlotte's offense, which collected 15 singles on the night. Greg Golson added three hits while Josh Phegley and Ozzie Martinez also collected two hits apiece.
The Tides and Knights continue their four-game set on Saturday night, with first pitch from Harbor Park scheduled for 7:15. Steve Johnson (1-0, 1.80) till take the hill for the Tides against right-hander Terry Doyle (0-1, 17.18).