Durham Bulls

Taylor Featherston grand slam, Patrick Leonard homer off bull lifts Durham Bulls to win

Taylor Featherston’s blast turned the game in Durham’s favor Saturday night. Patrick Leonard’s solo shot off the iconic bull sign above the left-field wall capped it off.

Two Bulls late home runs, one in the seventh inning and the other an inning later, erased a two-run deficit and carried Durham to a 6-3 International League win over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders before a crowd of 10,147 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

“Obviously the home run was a huge swing,” Bulls manager Jared Sandberg said. “It put a little life into our offense as well. Not that we’ve been down but we just didn’t have many rallies going. So definitely a big swing.”

Durham (73-46) maintained its 14.5-game lead over the second-place Gwinnett Braves in the South Division. The Bulls have a magic number of 10, meaning any combination of 10 Bulls wins and Braves losses equalling that number gives Durham the division title.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre took the game’s first lead in the fourth inning when Ji-Man Choi smacked a solo home run off Bulls starter Michael Roth. The Bulls tied the score in the bottom of the fourth when Featherston doubled and scored on a Jake Hager single. That was the only run allowed by Scranton/Wilkes-Barre starting pitcher Brady Lail.

The RailRiders moved back in front in the fifth inning, and chased Roth in the process, with two runs. Donovan Solano hit a solo home run to left before Billy McKinney later added an RBI single for a 3-1 lead.

Durham jumped on relief pitcher Tyler Jones in the seventh inning. Singles by Johnny Field and Leonard, followed by a walk to Curt Casali, preceded Featherston’s grand slam to left-centerfield that put the Bulls in front 5-3.

Leonard capped the scoring one inning later with a line shot that cleared the 30-foot wall in left field. The ball bounced off the bull sign that reads “Hit Bull, Win Steak,” giving Durham an extra run and Leonard a free steak dinner.