Solis strikes back on Star Wars Night
The force was with Durham catcher Ali Solis on Sunday.
Playing on Star Wars Night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Solis hit his first home run since July 17, 2012 to break a tie and send the Bulls to a 6-2 win over the Columbus Clippers.
Solis’ two-out, two-run homer in the seventh inning was followed by Mike Fontenot’s two-out, two-run single in the eighth inning as Durham (20-11) earned a split of the four-game series with Columbus (13-15) in front of 11,507, the fourth-largest crowd in DBAP history.
Solis’ opposite-field homer scored Fontenot, who was on third after a leadoff double and a sacrifice bunt. Solis, who struck out swinging in his first two at-bats, swung and missed on the first pitch from Columbus starter T.J. House (1-2) before taking advantage of a fastball down the middle.
“I knew with that runner on third, two outs, I felt like I had to bring that run in however I could,” Solis said.
The Bulls won despite expected starter Nathan Karns being recalled by Tampa Bay for Sunday’s game against the New York Yankees. Durham manager Charlie Montoyo called Karns late Saturday night to deliver the news.
“I woke him up last night,” Montoyo said. “‘Are you ready to pitch?’ (He said), ‘Yeah, I’m sleeping.’ ‘Well you’re going to pitch in Yankee Stadium, so… Now you don’t mind me waking you up.’”
Because Karns was no longer available, Doug Mathis made his first start since last August and Jim Patterson, who was promoted from Double-A Montgomery to replace Karns, made his second-ever Triple-A appearance.
Mathis, who has spent parts of the past seven seasons in the Majors, had made five relief appearances in Durham since being released by the Texas Rangers last month. He found out he was starting about two hours before the game.
“You never know what you’re going to get in this game, and you just have to take advantage of it,” Mathis said. “Obviously some outings aren’t ideal, but you have to deal with it. That’s the way the game is, and that’s the situation I’m in right now, and I just have to take whatever I can get. I’m happy I’m here.”
Mathis settled down after a 31-pitch first inning and allowed two runs in four innings, while Patterson (1-0) gave up just one hit and one walk in three innings.
Patterson, 25, had pitched 3.1 scoreless innings in his lone previous Triple-A outing, in 2012.
“The key was Patterson,” Montoyo said. “He threw strikes and he covered those three innings, which was beautiful, because I only had (Juan) Sandoval and (Jeff) Beliveau left.”
Sandoval pitched the final two innings to record his first save of the season and preserve a bullpen that was tired from Saturday’s 11-inning win.
NOTES – The Bulls wore Star Wars-themed jerseys that were auctioned off afterward to benefit the Autism Society of North Carolina. … UNC product Tim Fedroff led off the game with a walk to extend his on-base streak to 19 games. … The Bulls will take a 4 a.m. bus to the airport Monday and fly to Syracuse to start a four-game series. Durham’s Matt Andriese (1-2, 4.22) is scheduled to start against Josh Roenicke (0-2, 6.08) at 7 p.m.