Durham Bulls

No talk of peaking, but Bulls played lights out in latest home series

None one associated with the Durham Bulls wanted to use the work peak. There is plenty of baseball remaining on the season, and the talk of peaking implies there is no room for improvement. Durham is, however, playing some good baseball at the right time of the year.

The Bulls completed a three-game sweep of Charlotte, defeating the Knights 4-1. Durham (69-41) held Charlotte (45-65) to two runs over the three-game series, playing some of their best defense of the season. Not peaking, but heading in the right direction for sure.

“Pitching and defense are going to win you a championship,” Bulls’ manager Jared Sandberg said. “We’re playing good baseball right now. You want to peak at the end of the season, so if you can play good baseball all the way until the end of the season, that’s going to be a bonus for us, especially the position we’ve put ourselves in, as far as the standings go.”

Durham now has a 16-game lead in the IL South Division, and have dominated Charlotte this season, improving to 16-3 overall and 12-1 at home versus the Knights.

Curt Casali continued to show off his power, hitting his fifth home run of the season to give the Bulls a 2-1 lead in the second inning. The two-run shot came after Patrick Leonard got on with a single. Casali got hold of a pitch from Tyler Danish and the ball landed somewhere above the Tobacco Road restaurant beyond the outfield wall. In the fourth, Kean Wong drove in the first of his two runs of the day, continuing to prove he is comfortable in the leadoff spot. Wong would drive in an insurance run in the top of the eighth, scoring Justin O’Conner with a single to give the Bulls a 4-1 lead, the final margin of victory.

“Another good night,” Wong said. “Another good win. We’re heading in the right direction. We’re just trying to keep it rolling and get ready for the playoffs.”

O’Conner, in his first action for the Bulls after being reassigned from Montgomery, had three hits in his debut.

“It’s good to see him get up here to Triple-A,” Sandberg said about his newest catcher. “He’s been plagued by some injuries, he was a top prospect at one point, so it’s good for him to get off to a good start.”

Brent Honeywell got the start for Durham. He gave up a home run to the second batter he faced, Cody Asche, to spot Charlotte a 1-0 lead. After that Honeywell was back to his normal self, striking out eight batters. Afterwards, he didn’t hold back when talking about how well this club is and the potential they have down the road.

“This team is the best team I’ve ever seen,” Honeywell said. “I would put this team up against anybody. We get better every single day. You’re seeing guys take really good at-bats right now, you’re seeing guys alleviate runs. Guys are filling their roles like they are supposed to do.”

The Bulls travel to Norfolk for a three-game series with the Tides, starting Friday. Yonny Chirinos (11-3) gets the start for Durham. Alec Asher (2-1) will start for Norfolk.

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