Durham Bulls top Knights, close out IL South title march
One may have been the Durham Bulls’ magic number heading into Wednesday night’s game against the Charlotte Knights, but two was their lucky number on the way to clinching their sixth International League South Division title in seven years.
The Bulls put together three consecutive two-out, two-run rallies on their way to a 9-2 victory over the Knights at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, assuring they will host playoff games Sept. 4-5.
“I’m proud of this team; this is a tough division,” Manager Charlie Montoyo said after the Bulls matched the earliest date for locking up the division, setting off a champagne celebration in the clubhouse. “To clinch so early ... I mean, I know our record was outstanding.
“It’s not that easy; I don’t take it for granted.”
Shelley Duncan blasted his 11th home run of the season in the fourth inning, while Kevin Kiermaier and Mike Fontenot had a pair of hits each for the Bulls (82-50).
Bulls starter Merrill Kelly (8-3) went seven innings for the victory, giving up five hits and two walks while recording six strikeout, including the final three batters he faced.
“Any time you end a game on that kind of note, it’s always good,” Kelly said. “It worked out well. All of my pitching is timing; it’s my job to mess up their timing.”
Kelly gave up three straight singles to open the fourth inning but gave up just one run before settling down to get out of the inning with a 5-2 lead.
“He’s gone through that almost every start, but then he makes a big pitch when he has to,” Montoyo said.
The Knights got on the board first with a two-out home run by Brent Morel in the top of the first.
But Durham evened the score in the bottom of the inning. Tim Beckham and Kevin Kiermaier started the rally with singles, but Beckham was caught leaning off third on a grounder by Ryan Roberts and tagged out. Vince Belnome walked to load the bases, and Kiermaier scored on a sacrifice fly by Duncan.
The Bulls took the lead in the second on a two-out, two-run double by Kiermaier that drove in Chris Gimenez and Evan Frey for a 3-1 lead. Both runs were unearned, as Frey reached first when Charlotte starting pitcher Charlie Leesman (3-3) was unable to cleanly field his sacrifice bunt attempt.
The Bulls again cashed in with two out in the third, as Jesus Flores ripped a bases-loaded single to drive in Fontenot and Gimenez for a 5-1 lead. Fontenot beat out an infield single, moved to second when shortstop Leury Garcia booted a grounder by Gimenez and the bases were loaded when Frey drew a walk.
Duncan’s homer of the season plated Belnome in the fourth inning for the Bulls’ third consecutive two-run outburst after two outs.
The Bulls plated two more runs in the seventh inning, all but assuring the title.
“Everybody knew our magic number was one,” Kelly said. “I didn’t think about it too much; I just tried to treat it like another game.
“I wasn’t thinking about it during the game or anything like that. ... When I came off the field, I was like, ‘We got this.’”
NOTES — Kiermaier, who chased down a curving fly ball in right-center for the final out, notched his third extra base hit in two games after a pair of triples in Tuesday night’s 5-4 win over the Knights. ... The Bulls head to Norfolk for a two-game series today, with Matt Buschmann (7-1, 2.94 ERA) on the mound against the Tides’ Zach Britton (5-5, 4.74). On Friday, the Bulls will have J.D. Martin (15-4, 2.84) pitching against Norfolk’s Freddy Garcia (8-3, 2.84). ... The Tides visit the DBAP for games on Saturday and Sunday, followed by the final regular-season home games against Charlotte on Monday and Tuesday.
Durham Bulls (82-50) 9, Charlotte Knights (59-72) 2
August 21, 2013
|Garcia, L, SS||4||1||1||0||0||0||1||.267|
|Anderson, B, C||4||0||1||0||0||0||4||.226|
|Castro, S, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
HR: Morel (6, 1st inning off Kelly, M, 0 on, 2 out).
TB: Heisler; Wilkins; Garcia, L; Anderson, B; Morel 5.
RBI: Morel 2 (51).
2-out RBI: Morel.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Earley; Garcia, L.
GIDP: Anderson, B.
Team RISP: 1-for-5.
Team LOB: 5.
SB: Garcia, L (3, 2nd base off Kelly, M/Flores, J).
E: Leesman (1, fielding), Garcia, L (4, fielding), Castro, S (1, throw).
|Beckham, T, SS||5||0||1||1||0||1||5||.275|
|Roberts, R, 3B||3||0||0||0||0||2||3||.216|
|Figueroa, C, 3B||2||0||1||0||0||0||0||.290|
|Flores, J, C||4||0||1||3||0||1||4||.182|
|Kelly, M, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|De Los Santos, F, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
2B: Kiermaier (5, Leesman), Figueroa, C (19, Pena), Fontenot (30, Castro, S).
HR: Duncan (11, 4th inning off Leesman, 1 on, 2 out).
TB: Flores, J; Beckham, T; Duncan 4; Kiermaier 3; Fontenot 3; Figueroa, C 2; Frey.
RBI: Duncan 3 (51), Kiermaier 2 (11), Flores, J 3 (17), Beckham, T (47).
2-out RBI: Kiermaier 2; Flores, J 2; Duncan 2.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Fontenot; Roberts, R; Beckham, T; Duncan.
Team RISP: 2-for-13.
Team LOB: 8.
CS: Frey (2, 2nd base by Pena/Anderson, B).
E: Flores, J (4, throw).
DP: (Fontenot-Beckham, T-Belnome).
|Leesman (L, 3-3)||3.2||6||7||3||5||3||1||3.83|
|Kelly, M (W, 8-3)||7.0||5||2||2||2||6||1||3.07|
|De Los Santos, F||2.0||1||0||0||0||1||0||4.85|
Pitches-strikes: Leesman 96-54, Pena 36-25, Castro, S 24-14, Septimo 14-8, Kelly, M 94-68, De Los Santos, F 21-17.
Groundouts-flyouts: Leesman 7-1, Pena 4-0, Castro, S 3-0, Septimo 1-2, Kelly, M 6-5, De Los Santos, F 2-2.
Batters faced: Leesman 24, Pena 8, Castro, S 6, Septimo 3, Kelly, M 27, De Los Santos, F 7.
Inherited runners-scored: Pena 1-0.
Umpires: HP: Gabe Morales. 1B: Doug Vines. 3B: Jon Byrne.
Weather: 75 degrees, cloudy.
Wind: 4 mph, Out to CF.
Venue: Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
August 21, 2013
Compiled by MLB Advanced Media