Bulls can’t overcome mistakes, fall to Braves, 6-4

The Gwinnett Braves rolled into Durham and took the first game of a three-game series, defeating the Bulls 6-4 at the DBAP Friday.

The battle between the two teams has stayed true to form so far this season. In five games, four have been decided by two runs. The one exception was a 11-4 win by Durham on April 8. This time around the Bulls (7-2) committed four errors, while the Braves (5-4) played an error free nine innings.

A five-run sixth inning got the Braves going, just when it looked like the Bulls were in complete control. Leading 4-1 after a three-run homer from Curt Casali in the bottom of the fourth, Durham couldn’t overcome mistakes in the outfield, and the suddenly hot bats from Gwinnett.

“You try to stay out of big innings over the course of the season,” Bulls’ manager Jared Sandberg said. “It was too much to overcome as far as momentum and as far as confidence.”

Three of the runs by the Braves were earned, including a two-RBI double from Adam Walker, an RBI by Lane Adams and an impressive RBI triple by Kyle Kubitza. Gwinnett took advantage of two more errors in the outfield by the Bulls to take control of the ball game. By that time Durham starter Ryan Yarbrough, who started the game with eight strikeouts through four innings, had given up 10 hits and all six runs.

The 10 hits surrendered were the most by a pitcher this season. Yarbrough gave up seven versus Gwinnett to earlier in the season, when the Braves handed the Bulls their first loss of the season.

“I just wanted to get back to being simple,” Yarbrough said. “Things were going pretty well, they just strung some hits together and it got away from me a little bit. I felt good, I don’t know what the pitch count was or anything, I just left some balls up and they got some good swings on it.”

Durham struck first in the top of the first when Casey Gillaspie drove in Willy Adames. Three innings later Casali lit the Bull by sending over the centerfield wall.

Before the disaster that was the sixth, Yarbrough had some bright moments. He struck out the side in the top of the second, giving him five strikeouts against his first seven batters. The Braves first run was unearned (third inning) and Yarbrough and the defense kept things under wraps for the next two innings.

An apparent home run by Willy Adames temporarily brought the Bulls to within one run, but after some discussion from the umpires, Adames first Triple-A homer was taken off the books and he was awarded a double. The home run that never was took away a little momentum as the Braves make quick work of the next three batters to end the eighth inning.

“We get the big three-run home run by Casali, but unfortunately after that we couldn’t string anything together,” Sandberg said. “We’re a young team, we’re going to make mistakes, we just need to learn from them. We need to continue to keep our chins up, keeping fighting and learn from the mistakes.”

The Bulls finished the game with seven hits, and their home run streak continued to six consecutive games. Game two between starts at 6:35 p.m. on Saturday with Chase Whitley (0-0) getting the start for Durham. Luke Jackson (0-1) will start for Gwinnett.

Jonas Pope IV: 919-419-7001, @JEPopeIV