With the International League’s best record, the Durham Bulls haven’t experienced many losses this season.
Though Sunday’s extra-inning defeat at Norfolk qualified as a tough one, the Bulls showed no ill-effects upon returning home Monday night.
Durham clobbered Columbus pitching with 11 hits, including six for extra bases, in a 9-2 win before a crowd of 4,494 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Casey Gillaspie and Jake Bauers each slammed home runs as the Bulls (21-8) rebounded well from Sunday’s 4-3 loss at Norfolk, where the Tides scored twice in the bottom of the 12 inning to steal the win.
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“It shows what kind of team we have and how resilient we are,” Bulls manager Jared Sandberg said. “To come back and play good baseball today is really, really good.”
The Bulls again proved masters of clutch hitting, going 4-of-8 with runners in scoring position. Six of Durham’s nine runs were the result of two-out RBIs.
“We continued to trend with two-out hitting,” Sandberg said.
It started in the first inning with Jake Bauers doubled with two outs and came home on Patrick Leonard’s double off the left-field wall.
Gillaspie, struggling with a .214 batting average to start the night, smacked a solo home run to start a five-run, second-inning uprising by Durham.
The next two batters were retired and it sure looked like Gillaspie’s home run would account for the inning’s only run. But Jake Hager drew a walk before Mallax Smith lined a ball into the corner and raced around the bases for an RBI triple. Johnny Field’s single to centerfield drove in Smith for a 4-0 Bulls lead.
Bauers walked before Leonard drove in two with another double to give Durham a 6-0 lead.
That second hit of the game lifted Leonard’s batting average to .402 for the season. He didn’t get another hit in the game, finishing 2-for-4 with three RBIs, and will carry a .394 average into Durham’s Tuesday night game with Columbus.
The Bulls added two more runs in the fifth inning when shortstop Willy Adames drove in two runs with a double.
Bauers closed the scoring with a two-out solo home run in the sixth inning.
That was more than enough offense for Durham’s pitching staff, which was led by starter Yonny Chirinos. After the team used six pitchers in Sunday’s 12-inning loss and with the bullpen scheduled to cover the entire game on Tuesday night, Chirinos was asked to chew up innings.
He did, throwing 109 pitches in a outing lasting 6 ⅔ innings. He scattered six hits, issuing three walks and striking out eight.