Bulls lose in 13 innings
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Durham Bulls down by two runs, Wilson Betemit gulf swung a pitch that was thrown low in the strike zone, driving the ball high and over the right-field fence to tie the Durham Bulls’ game against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at eight runs apiece on Monday.
It was only enough to send the game into extra innings, however, as Zelous Wheeler’s solo home run off Steve Geltz helped the RailRiders defeat the Bulls 10-8 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Russ Canzler then drove in Dean Anna with a single to centerfield later in the inning to give the RailRiders a two-run lead.
Up to Betemit’s ninth-inning moment, the Bulls’ game against the RailRiders had largely been defined by their eccentric pitching performance.
Coming into Monday’s game, Bulls pitcher Nathan Karns has not had a great season, giving up 19 earned runs in 21 1/3 innings for a 2-2 record in five starts.
Against the RailRiders, Karns struggled again, giving up five earned runs in five innings on eight hits and three walks.
However, the Bulls’ pitching staff, which used six arms through 12 innings, set a season high with 18 strikeouts.
Three of those strikeouts were delivered by Steve Geltz in the top of the 12th inning. Geltz managed to escape with runners on second and third with two outs and a full court when he struck out Ramon Flores.
It was the Bulls though who took a first-inning lead.
Mike Fontenot drew a walk on his leadoff at bat for the Bulls. Justin Christian put Fontenot into scoring position with a line drive to centerfield for a single. Vince Belnome took a 2-2 pitch to right filed to load the bases.
A passed ball allowed by RailRiders catcher Francisco Arcia allowed Fontenot to score from third base and advanced Christian and Belnome to third and second bases, respectively.
Cole Figueroa hit a sacrifice fly ball to left field that was just deep enough to score Christian as the Bulls took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
However, the Bulls missed an opportunity to do more damages as Ray Olmedo popped up to third baseman Zelous Wheeler to end the inning, leaving the bases loaded.
The RailRiders hammered Karns in the fourth inning as they hit a home run, two doubles and a single while also taking two walks to take a 5-2 lead.
Almonte took the first pitch of the inning over the deep fence in centerfield with a line shot that had Mike Mahtook trailing it to the fence.
On the next at bat, Adonis Garcia drove a line drive that appeared to hit the rightfield foul-ball line. Ronnier Mustelier, Jose Pirela and Francisco Arcia each batted in a run in their respective at bats to score the final three runs of the inning for the RailRiders.
After a quiet bottom of the fourth inning, the Bulls struck back in the fifth.
Cole Figueroa and Mikie Mahtook hit back-to-back triples with two outs as the Bulls scored four runs to take a one-run lead in the fifth.
Earlier in the inning, Fontenot and Christian both singled to right field to lead off the inning for the Bulls. Christian put himself in scoring position with a stolen base on the first pitch of the next at-bat, his third of the season.
With two runners in scoring position and one out, Wilson Betemit hit a fly ball to centerfield. RailRiders centerfielder Adonis Garcia positioned himself under the ball to make a throw to home plate.
But the ball dropped out of Garcia’s glove, allowing Fontenot to score easily, Christian to advance to third and Betemit to reach base on the error.
The Bulls’ lead did not last as they attacked the top of the sixth inning with a pitching duo of Doug Mathis and Jeff Beliveau, whom relieved Karns.
Neither was effective.
After retiring the first batter, Mathis hit Francisco Arcia with a pitch, then gave up a double to Zelous Wheeler. Beliveau came in to relieve Mathis only to walk Dean Anna and allow Zolio Almonte to drive in two runs with a single to give the RailRiders a one-run lead.
The Bulls were summarily retired in order in the bottom of the sixth inning. However, Beliveau struck out the side for a little bright spot in the Bulls’ pitching for the game.