Durham Bulls

Big first inning sends Durham Bulls to 6-4 win over Pawtucket Red Sox

The Durham Bulls had four runs and six hits before Pawtucket recorded an out on Friday night.

That’s a pretty good recipe for a win.

Even though the Bulls didn’t score again, their six-run first inning proved enough for a 6-4 International League win before a crowd of 8,955 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

The Bulls (33-20) made Pawtucket starting pitcher Henry Owens endure a tough, albeit truncated, night on the mound. That was far different than last Sunday when he struck out seven over six innings to beat the Bulls 7-1 to complete a Red Sox sweep in Pawtucket.

“It was fresh in our minds as far as our last trip to Pawtucket,” Bulls manager Jared Sandberg said. “The players knew that we were dominated in all phases in Pawtucket so we were playing with a little chip on our shoulder.”

Revenge came as soon as the Bulls stepped in the batter’s box. The first three Bulls batters collected hits: a Johnny Field single, a Willy Adames single and a two-run double by Jake Bauers.

Owens walked Patrick Leonard and Mike Marjama lined an RBI single for a 3-0 Bulls lead.

Shane Peterson singled to load the bases and Casey Gillaspie made it 4-0 with a single.

Owens struck out Mike McKenry for the first out and retired Alec Sole on a popup. But he walked Field to force in a run and was removed from the game. When relief pitcher Austin Maddox walked in another run, Durham had a 6-0 lead.

“Owens beat us last time and pitched a decent ball game,” Sandberg said. “So we came out today and it feels great to knock him out in the first inning. He’s such a tremendous pitching prospect for the the Red Sox.”

Durham had a top pitching prospect of its own on the mound Friday night in Brent Honeywell. His last outing, at Pawtucket, didn’t go well as he allowed eight hits and seven runs in three innings last Sunday.

“Worst outing of my career,” Honeywell said.

Like Durham’s batters, Honeywell flipped the script. Pitching with a huge lead, Honeywell limited the Red Sox to one run over the first five innings.

He recorded a strikeout to open the sixth inning, on a 94-mph fastball, but saw his control slip as he walked the next two batters. After he flashed a mid-90s fastball again while striking out Matt Dominquez, Honeywell saw Jantzen White line a ball off the wall in left field for an RBI-double.

Honeywell was removed having thrown 100 pitches as the Bulls still led 6-2.

Andrew Kittredge replaced him and allowed a Matt Miller single that drove in two more runs and cut Durham’s lead to 6-4.

But Kittredge didn’t allow another hit over 2 ⅓ innings. Neil Wagner pitched a perfect ninth inning for his second save to preserve the Bulls win.