Brent Honeywell, the Tampa Bay Rays No. 2 prospect, showed what he was made of as the Augusta, Ga. native struck out nine batters as Durham defeated Syracuse, 4-3, at the DBAP.
The Bulls went 4-2 on their recent road trip and returned home with newfound momentum and a new arm to show off. Honeywell (1-1) joined the team on the road trip, moving up from AA Montgomery. In his first appearance in Durham, he struck out two of the first three batters he faced. He gave up a two-run homer to Brandon Snyder in the second, but only gave up three more hits the rest of his time on the hill.
“He made some good adjustments from his last start,” Bulls’ manager Jared Sandberg said. “He was able to take control of the strike zone and the change up was outstanding tonight. It allowed him to get the ball to the bullpen.”
The bullpen - Justin Marks, Andre Kittredge, Adam Kolarek, Diego Moreno - combined to surrender just two hits the rest of the way. The Chiefs (8-8) last run was unearned, as Durham (12-6) got defensive, easily putting the two-run deficit behind them.
“Our pitching staff did a great job tonight,” right fielder Granden Goetzman said. “Defense played well and we got the (win), that’s all that matters.”
It was Goetzman who got Durham on the board in the bottom of the second. Goetzman found himself in the perfect situation - bases loaded, no outs - his first at bat, and took full advantage. Goetzman hit a three-RBI triple to get Durham on the board and give them their first lead, 3-2, of the evening. Later in the second, Kean Wong drove in a run with a double to put the Bulls ahead 4-2.
“The bases were juiced and you’re just trying to get one across,” Goetzman said. “We were able to get three across and it turned out to be crucial runs.”
The Durham defense forced Syracuse to go three up, three down on three separate occasions throughout the game, including the top of the ninth to secure the win. Moreno earned the save, but it was Honeywell who earned the admiration of his teammates and coaches, getting things started for the Bulls and not hanging his head when things got tough, including a stretch in his final inning when the bases were loaded and the Chiefs were threatening to take the lead.
“Honeywell showed unbelievable competitiveness in that last frame,” Sandberg said. “We were trying to see what he was made of, and it shows a lot in his young career.”
Realizing how cliche it sounds, Honeywell admitted his favorite movie is ‘Bull Durham’ so he was ready for his introduction to the home crowd for the first time. Unfortunately, the first hit he gave up was the two-run home run, but he didn’t get down on himself after that, settling in and pitching well the rest of his time on the mound.
“I was grooving when he hit the homer,” Honeywell said. “I don’t think it was a bad pitch, he did what he was supposed to do with that pitch. After that me and (catcher) Curt (Casali) we were battling all night.”
The Bulls and Chiefs return to action with a 10:35 A.M. start time Wednesday at the DBAP. Ryan Yarbrough (0-2) will start for Durham versus Austin Voth (1-1) for Syracuse.