Durham made this one look easy. Two swings of the bat generated all the runs the Bulls needed as Durham took a 2-0 lead in its series with Charlotte, defeating the rival Knights, 4-1.
With the win the Bulls improve to 68-41 on the season and are now 27 games over .500. Durham picked up 10 hits against Charlotte, but two hits were all they needed.
Jake Bauers, who also played a solid game at first base, wasted little time getting his bat going, jacking a solo home run in the first inning, giving the home team an early 1-0 lead. It was his 10th home run this season. Not to be outdone, Kean Wong waited until two got on before he sent one out the yard. After Mike McKenry drew a walk and Jake Hager got on thanks to a single, Wong hit his fourth home run of the year, his first three-run shot. Wong’s home run made it 4-0 in favor of Durham and that would be all it took.
“Two big swings,” Bulls’ manager Jared Sandberg said. “Anytime Bauers can go opposite like that, we’ve seen it a few times. Wong, it’s kind of coming, it’s not surprising, it was surprising a month ago.”
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Wong has settled in and starting seeing the ball better lately, crediting that to playing everyday and being able to get in a routine. He knew when he took a swing it had a chance to go long and generate a spark for the team. It was also a display of newfound power from Wong that Sandberg referenced.
“Every year I’ve been going up in power stats,” Wong said. “I don’t worry about that, I worry about guys getting on base, but it’s nice to see that (the power) coming around. I’m just getting more experience and it’s a matter of swinging at my pitches and not the pitcher’s, pitches.”
Charlotte (45-64) stayed with the home run theme, scoring their only run on a solo bomb from Rymer Liriano in the seventh off of relief pitcher Hunter Wood.
Starting pitcher Michael Roth (2-3) picked up his second win of the season, going six innings, striking out four while only surrendering two hits. Roth, a native of Greenville, South Carolina, didn’t give up his first hit until the fourth inning - a single to Liriano - controlling the game and keeping the Knights at bay during his outing. Roth and the defense went three up and three down in four of the six innings he pitched, keeping his number of pitches under 80 for the game. The most batters he faced in one inning was five in the fourth, walking one and giving up the single to Liriano.
“After the first couple of starts I’ve been able to get a good rhythm going,” Roth said. “I was able to do that tonight … I was able to make some pitches and the guys played great behind me.”
The Bulls’ defense has given up just one run and five hits in the last 18 innings.
“The defense has been solid,” Sandberg said. “As long as we make the routine plays, we will be fine. The web gems and highlight reel plays, those are going to happen, but as long as we stick to the system and make routine plays.”
Durham his now 15-3 versus Charlotte this season and 11-1 at the DBAP. The Bulls and Knights wrap up the series Thursday. Brent Honeywell (10-7) starts for Durham, while Chris Volstad (2-6) gets the start for Charlotte.