Bulls rock Sox , clinch Governor's Cup, trip to Triple-A title game
The Durham Bulls are champions again. And after a post-season full of edgy, heart-pounding, run-starved games, the best team in the International League finally made it look easy.
The Bulls routed Pawtucket 7-0 on Saturday night, limiting the PawSox to just three baserunners in closing out the Governors’ Cup series in four games. The Bulls won their fourth International League title, and their first since 2009.
“It was a special group,” said manager Charlie Montoyo, who won his second Governors’ Cup in seven seasons with the Bulls. “That same nucleus of guys that were here all season, I’m really happy for them.”
After taking 14 innings to score in a 2-0 win in Game 3 Friday night, the Bulls wasted no time getting to Pawtucket starter Charlie Haeger on Saturday.
With two outs and no one on in the first inning, Haeger walked Tim Beckham on four pitches. Vince Belnome singled to left and Jason Bourgeois, who led the Bulls this season with a .419 average with two outs and runners in scoring position, singled up the middle to score Beckham.
The Bulls added to their lead in the next inning, again with two outs. Kevin Kiermaier hit a first-pitch home run with a man on, making it 3-0. In the third, there was still more two-out lightning. Brandon Guyer tripled to right-center field and Shelley Duncan followed with a double down the left-field line, chasing Haeger, who took the loss.
The Bulls put the game away in the sixth. With one out, Duncan drew a walk and scored on Mike Fontenot’s triple to center field. After Craig Albernaz bounced out with the infield in, Kiermaier and Cole Figueroa both singled, each driving in a run and extending the Bulls’ lead to 7-0, adding two more two-out runs to the Bulls’ total.
Meanwhile, Bulls starter Merrill Kelly did not allow a baserunner until Jonathan Diaz’s one-out single in the fourth inning. The cunning right-hander held the PawSox to two hits, both singles by Diaz, over six shutout innings. He struck out seven and did not allow a walk.
Kelly, promoted with little fanfare to Durham from Double-A in mid-June, achieved an unusual trifecta: he started and won the Bulls’ South Division-clinching regular season game, the series-ending win over Indianapolis in the first round of the playoffs, and the Governors’ Cup finale over Pawtucket.
Kelly had never won a championship at any level of baseball prior to this season. He lost in the College World Series while at Arizona State, and again in the Double-A playoffs in 2012.
“In the first inning I was a little amped up. I was [just] throwing rather than trying to execute pitches. After that, I settled down. I just tried to keep my mind as clear as possible, treat it like as much of a normal game as I could.”
Jeff Beliveau, Steve Geltz and Adam Liberatore tossed three perfect innings to complete the shutout. It was a fitting end for the Bulls, who were carried by their formidable, league-best pitching staff all season. Last night, the bats rewarded the arms’ staunch effort with one of their own, putting an exclamation point on a dominant season.
“This is the best pitching I’ve ever had,” Montoyo said. “It’s not even close.”
For their winning efforts, the Bulls earned the right to play one more game. At 7 p.m. Tuesday, they will represent the International League in the Triple-A National Championship game, hosted by the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Pa.
The Bulls will play the winner of the Pacific Coast League championship series between Omaha and Salt Lake City. Going into Saturday night’s game, Omaha held a 2-1 lead in that best-of-five series.
The Bulls won the Triple-A championship game in their only other appearance, beating the Memphis Redbirds in 2009.
“This is a great group of guys,” Kiermaier said after the game. “Life is good right now. Now we’ve got one more game to try to win the Triple-A championship.”
NOTES — Attendance for the finale was 5,833 ... Bulls right-hander Jake Odorizzi is tentatively scheduled to start the Triple-A title game. If he is recalled to the majors or shut down by an innings limit, International League Most Valuable Pitcher J. D. Martin will start instead. The NBC Sports Network will broadcast Tuesday’s game live.
Durham Bulls (3-1) 7, Pawtucket Red Sox (1-3) 0
September 14, 2013
|Figueroa, C, 3B||5||0||2||1||0||0||0||.267|
|Beckham, T, SS||3||1||0||0||2||0||2||.290|
|Kelly, M, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
2B: Duncan (2, Haeger), Belnome (2, Villarreal, B).
3B: Guyer (1, Haeger), Fontenot (1, Huntzinger).
HR: Kiermaier (1, 2nd inning off Haeger, 1 on, 2 out).
TB: Albernaz; Belnome 3; Guyer 3; Duncan 2; Bourgeois; Fontenot 4; Kiermaier 5; Figueroa, C 2.
RBI: Bourgeois (3), Kiermaier 3 (4), Duncan (1), Fontenot (1), Figueroa, C (4).
2-out RBI: Bourgeois; Kiermaier 3; Duncan; Figueroa, C.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Guyer; Fontenot; Bourgeois.
Team RISP: 4-for-8.
Team LOB: 7.
CS: Beckham, T (2, 2nd base by Huntzinger/Butler, D).
|Henry, Ju, LF||4||0||0||0||0||0||0||.292|
|Diaz, J, 3B||4||0||2||0||0||1||0||.172|
|Hamilton, M, 1B||3||0||0||0||0||2||1||.133|
|Butler, D, C||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||.286|
|Thomas, T, 2B||3||0||0||0||0||2||1||.167|
|Villarreal, B, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
TB: Diaz, J 2.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Wilkerson.
Team RISP: 0-for-3.
Team LOB: 3.
DP: (Meneses-Hamilton, M).
|Kelly, M (W, 2-0)||6.0||2||0||0||0||7||0||0.00|
|Haeger (L, 1-1)||2.2||7||4||4||2||2||1||4.50|
WP: Kelly, M, Doyle.
HBP: Butler, D (by Kelly, M).
Pitches-strikes: Kelly, M 97-61, Beliveau 16-11, Geltz 8-4, Liberatore 11-7, Haeger 55-32, Huntzinger 44-26, Doyle 44-30, Villarreal, B 13-9.
Groundouts-flyouts: Kelly, M 5-4, Beliveau 0-0, Geltz 2-0, Liberatore 1-0, Haeger 2-3, Huntzinger 3-1, Doyle 5-1, Villarreal, B 2-1.
Batters faced: Kelly, M 21, Beliveau 4, Geltz 2, Liberatore 3, Haeger 16, Huntzinger 10, Doyle 11, Villarreal, B 4.
Inherited runners-scored: Huntzinger 1-0, Doyle 1-1.
Umpires: HP: David Soucy. 1B: Chad Whitson. 2B: Brad Myers. 3B: Jon Byrne.
Weather: 69 degrees, partly cloudy.
Wind: 12 mph, L to R.
Venue: McCoy Stadium.
September 14, 2013
Compiled by MLB Advanced Media