Road to the Triple-A National Championship Game

BB&T Ballpark is hosting the Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game on Tuesday, September 16. The game, which will be televised on NBC Sports Network starting at 7:00 p.m., pits the top team in the International League against the top team in the Pacific Coast League. I’m really excited to be a part of this winner-take-all showdown. BB&T Ballpark is the perfect host and I’m excited for what we have in store.

Let’s take a look at the International League playoff scenario after two games: NCG_full_hlsm2u6m_cjdqv2ce

Durham Bulls (75-69) vs. Columbus Clippers (79-65)

The Durham Bulls won the IL South Division this season, finishing nine games ahead of second place Gwinnett in the standings. The Bulls have been one of the most consistent teams in the IL — earning a trip to the playoffs in seven of the last eight seasons. They won the Governors’ Cup last season and will look to do so again this season.

Game one went to the Columbus Clippers, who received a strong outing from starter Kyle Davies. The Georgia native tossed six innings and allowed three runs on six hits, while striking out nine batters. He was backed by his offense, which belted out nine runs on 12 hits. Francisco Lindor ripped three hits, while David Murphy, Matt Carson, and James Ramsey all homered. It was an impressive offensive showing against the Bulls. Alex Colome was saddled with the loss after allowing four runs on five hits over five innings.

Durham slugger Jeremy Moore homered in the loss. Mikie Mahtook had one of Durham’s nine hits.

On Thursday, the Bulls came back to tie the series (1-1) with an impressive 4-3 win in 10 innings in Columbus. The Bulls scored two runs over the final two innings (9th & 10th) en route to the come-from-behind win. Columbus led 3-2 heading to the ninth inning and received a solid start from Tyler Cloyd, who tossed seven solid innings. Cloyd, who threw the only IL no-hitter this season, struck-out seven batters over his seven innings on Thursday and did not factor in the decision.

Nick Franklin had three of Durham’s nine hits in the game, while Cole Figueroa chipped in with two. Josh Lueke earned the win after two shutout innings out of the bullpen.

The series now shifts to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park for games three, four, and five (if necessary). It has been a busy year for the Durham franchise, who hosted the Triple-A All-Star Game in July. Led by manager Charlie Montoyo, and a top notch front office staff, the Bulls have been one of the most successful franchises on the field and at the gates.

Syracuse Chiefs (81-62) vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (79-65)

The North Division was the most competitive division in the IL this season. The Chiefs led the way with 81 wins and beat out the Pawtucket Red Sox — leading the division by 2.5 games. Syracuse is led by the Manager of the Year — Billy Gardner Jr. — and featured the IL MVP and Rookie of the Year in Steven Souza Jr.

The Chiefs have struggled to score runs in the first two games of the series. Pawtucket won game one by a score of 2-1 after getting a run in the bottom of the 10th inning to come back for the victory. The PawSox had a 1-0 heading into the ninth inning, but the Chiefs scored a run in the top of the ninth to tie the game. Brandon Laird homered in the ninth off starter Edwin Escobar — who was sharp on the evening. One inning later, Pawtucket’s Garin Cecchini singled home the winning run as Pawtucket walk-off with a game one win.

On Thursday, game two once again went to the PawSox — this time by a score of 8-2. Pawtucket starter Matt Barnes was impressive — tossing seven shutout innings. He allowed just three hits and struck-out six. Garin Cecchini had another big day at the plate. Cecchini went 4-for-4 with a triple, two runs scored, and an RBI. Ryan Roberts chipped in with three hits.

The first two games were played and won by the PawSox on their home field. Now, the series shifts to Syracuse. Stay tuned to see if the PawSox can win one more game to move on to play for the Governors’ Cup Championship.

It’s going to be an exciting road to the Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game. Stay tuned!

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