Taylor Featherston’s blast turned the game in Durham’s favor Saturday night. Patrick Leonard’s solo shot off the iconic bull sign above the left-field wall capped it off.
Two Bulls late home runs, one in the seventh inning and the other an inning later, erased a two-run deficit and carried Durham to a 6-3 International League win over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders before a crowd of 10,147 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
“Obviously the home run was a huge swing,” Bulls manager Jared Sandberg said. “It put a little life into our offense as well. Not that we’ve been down but we just didn’t have many rallies going. So definitely a big swing.”
Durham (73-46) maintained its 14.5-game lead over the second-place Gwinnett Braves in the South Division. The Bulls have a magic number of 10, meaning any combination of 10 Bulls wins and Braves losses equalling that number gives Durham the division title.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre took the game’s first lead in the fourth inning when Ji-Man Choi smacked a solo home run off Bulls starter Michael Roth. The Bulls tied the score in the bottom of the fourth when Featherston doubled and scored on a Jake Hager single. That was the only run allowed by Scranton/Wilkes-Barre starting pitcher Brady Lail.
The RailRiders moved back in front in the fifth inning, and chased Roth in the process, with two runs. Donovan Solano hit a solo home run to left before Billy McKinney later added an RBI single for a 3-1 lead.
Durham jumped on relief pitcher Tyler Jones in the seventh inning. Singles by Johnny Field and Leonard, followed by a walk to Curt Casali, preceded Featherston’s grand slam to left-centerfield that put the Bulls in front 5-3.
Leonard capped the scoring one inning later with a line shot that cleared the 30-foot wall in left field. The ball bounced off the bull sign that reads “Hit Bull, Win Steak,” giving Durham an extra run and Leonard a free steak dinner.