Mahtook, Bulls power past Louisville
It had become a running joke in the Durham Bulls clubhouse because Mikie Mahtook’s solid season with the Bulls had yet to include a home run.
On Sunday, Mahtook and the Bulls had a last laugh together.
Mahtook smacked a two-run homer, his first of the season, as the Bulls hit three balls over the fences in a 6-2 win over Louisville at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
A .301 hitter this season, Mahtook had 16 home runs over the last two seasons at Class A Charlotte (Fla.) and Class AA Montgomery.
His Durham teammates had some good-natured fun with his lack of homers this season so far.
“Going through two months without one is not the norm,” Mahtook said. “It’s nice to get one out today.”
Mahtook’s blast, with one out in the fourth inning, erased Louisville’s 2-1 lead and put the Bulls up for good at 3-2. Wilson Betemit and Vince Belnome added solo home runs in the sixth inning for Durham (26-19).
“I was getting kind of frustrated because we were getting hits but not the big hits,” Durham manager Charlie Montoyo said. “But we hit three out. That helps.”
Durham’s power outburst supported strong pitching from Mike Montgomery, Jake Thompson and Kirby Yates.
Montgomery (5-1) lasted into the seventh inning, allowing just six hits and two runs while striking out four. He threw 98 pitches to cover 6 ⅓ innings.
“Early on I wanted to establish my fastball,” said Montgomery, who walked four. “Command was OK. I was battling that the whole game. On the second time through the order I decided to attack with everything. I started to get more comfortable. I was trying to let them hit it in play.”
The Bulls turned three double plays behind Montgomery. The first came in the first inning after Louisville put two runners on with one out. The double play ended the inning.
“I was at the point where I said let’s just get early contact and let the defense do their job,” Montgomery said.
In the third inning, the Bats lead-off man reached on a single before Montgomery induced the double-play grounder from ex-Bull Jason Bourgeois. That proved important when the next three Louisville players singled. Felix Perez drove in one run and another came in on Montgomery’s wild pitch for a 2-1 Louisville lead.
But in the fourth inning, Vince Belnome singled with one out off Bats starting pitcher Tim Crabbe. Mahtook sliced an outside pitch down the line in right field and the ball just cleared the fence in the corner for a home run.
“It was a fastball middle-away a little bit,” Mahtook said. “Honestly I didn’t think I got it. It was one of those things where I hadn’t hit one all year. Not that I can’t hit them. It had become a running joke. I hit it to the right part of the park.”