Durham Bulls

Bulls dominate Knights during a wild night at the DBAP

The Durham Bulls put on quite the show for the fans who decided to wait it out.

After mother nature poured rain over the city and the power went out at The Durham Bulls Athletic Park, the team rewarded those in attendance with an all-time impressive performance. Thanks to a highlight reel fourth inning, the Bulls cruised to an easy 17-3 win over Charlotte.

“It was quite the night,” Durham manager Jared Sandberg said. “It was good to see guys rally behind what happened and they were patient with the process. A lot of things were out of our control, but they went out there and took care of business. It was good to see.”

After a hour and 19 minute delay due to heavy rains, then the power going, the Bulls came out swinging. The runs really poured in during a once in a lifetime fourth inning. Durham, who scored what was a season-high seven runs in one inning Friday, shattered that record by scoring 11 runs in the fourth.

The Bulls weren’t exactly struggling before then, up 6-0 after three innings, but they really blew the game open in the fourth, including a pair of home runs from Mike McKenry and Johnny Field. The homer by Field made the score 17-0 and Durham didn’t even have an out. In fact, 11 batters teed off on Jake Dunning before the Knights recorded an out.

Field’s home run was the third off the day, after Casey Gillaspie drilled a two-run shot in the second inning to start the scoring. Curt Casali made it 3-0 in the third and McKenry hit the first of his six RBI with a triple to make it 6-0. The fourth inning didn’t start with anything spectacular; Kean Wong drew a walk and Field got on thanks to an error in the outfield, but Willy Adames started the scoring onslaught with a single. At the time, nobody knew that something so special was in store.

“I think once that fourth inning started and we kind of got to the starting pitcher a little bit,” Gillaspie said when asked if he could sense a big inning was coming. “After that we didn’t make an out for a while. I think that was an indicator that was going to be one of those nights for us. It was a lot of fun.”

McKenry said most players in the dugout didn’t even realize they had gone through 11 batters without an out. Caught in the moment of what he called still a “kids game” the players, McKenry included, became fans of their own teammates from the dugout during the fourth.

“It was a lot of fun out there,” McKenry said. “We have a lot of young guys and they make me feel younger just being around them. We were just enjoying it so much. It was just one of those things where we were just in the morning.”

With the bases loaded, Patrick Leonard drew a walk, Casli scored two with a double, Gillaspie drove in one with a single and McKenry rocked one out of the park to add three more runs on the board. After two more walks, Field answered McKenry’s homer with one of his own, the fourth time this season Durham has hit three homers in one game. The 17 runs is also a new season record. The previous high was 13 against Syracuse back in April.

The offensive explosion at the plate almost overshadowed a bounce back performance from pitcher Brent Honeywell, who picked up his seventh win of the season. Honeywell pitched six innings, striking out nine batters.

Honeywell, though, was quick to deflect the attention to his offensive teammates on their night.

“Everybody else in here scored 17 runs,” Honeywell said. “I just had to stay in it as long as I could. Tonight was a big step forward. All in all it was a good team win. I think everybody had fun tonight. We did a lot tonight, we crushed the baseball.”

Some impressive streaks continued for a few Durham players. Gillaspie reached base for the sixth consecutive night and now has seven RBI over the last six games. Honeywell continues to pitch his best against Charlotte. He is now 2-0 against the Knights with 18 total strikeouts. The Bulls are now 10-2 versus the Knights this season and a perfect 6-0 at home.

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