All Tied At One After Two
Game two in each of the Triple-A Finals took place on Wednesday and the two teams that were down a game came back to tie up the series. Over in the International League, the Durham Bulls rallied to beat the Pawtucket Red Sox 4-3. The Governors’ Cup Finals are now tied at one game each.
Over in the Pacific Coast League Finals, the Reno Aces tied up the series with a 4-2 victory last night on their home field. Those two teams will have an off day today before resuming their series on Friday night from Omaha.
Let’s take a look back at Wednesday’s game two matchups, which featured big wins from both Durham and Reno:
Durham Bulls at Pawtucket Red Sox (series tied 1-1)
Game 2: Bulls win 4-3
Wednesday’s game in Pawtucket was an instant classic.
The PawSox came into the game up one game to none after a 3-2 win on Tuesday. It was much of the same early on for Pawtucket on Wednesday. Much like on Tuesday, the PawSox once again knocked Durham’s starter out early as they scored three runs over the first two innings. Durham starter Jesus Colome allowed three runs over 1.1 innings pitched and was out before the second inning was over. The Bulls were forced to turn things over to their bullpen — which was solid once again.
The Bulls, who ended up being down 3-0 after two innings, handed things over to their bullpen, which would go on to toss 9.2 scoreless innings. Five relievers, including starter Merrill Kelly, were sharp on the hill and kept the Bulls in the game.
Corey Brown‘s two-run home run in the second inning for the PawSox proved to be big early on, but the Bulls offense battled back. Mikie Mahtook changed the game with one swing of his bat in the top of the third inning when he launched a two-run home run off Pawtucket starter Brian Johnson. Johnson was solid over six innings, however, allowing just two runs on four hits. He fanned seven batters in his Triple-A debut.
It was a 3-2 Pawtucket lead all the way to the ninth inning — until Vince Belnome sent the game into extras with a solo home run in the top of the ninth inning off Spartanburg, SC native Heath Hembree. It was the first run Hembree allowed in the postseason, but it was a big one for the Bulls, who could have gone down two games to none.
The game went into extras and neither team could score in the 10th frame. In the 11th, things changed when the Bulls got help from Belnome again. This time, he led the inning off with a walk. Three batters later, Mike Fontenot singled home Belnome to give the Bulls a 4-3 lead.
In the bottom of the 11th, reliever Adam Liberatore was back after getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the 10th. Liberatore walked Justin Henry in the 11th to put the tying run on first base, but got Bryce Brentz to strike out swinging to end the game.
The win for the Bulls was huge as they now head home to Durham tied in the series. The series will continue tonight in Durham with RHP Matt Andriese on the mound for the Bulls against Red Sox number two prospect Henry Owens. Game three should be a great matchup and the winner of this one will be a step closer to the Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game on September 16 in BB&T Ballpark.
Omaha Storm Chasers at Reno Aces: (series tied 1-1)
Game 2: Aces win 4-2
After falling to the Storm Chasers in game one on Tuesday by a score of 6-2, the Aces came back on Wednesday with a big win.
Needing a win before the series shifted to Omaha for the final three games, the Aces, jumped out to an early 4-0 lead after scoring four runs in the second inning on Wednesday. Those four runs would be all the Aces would end up needing.
Reno starter Bradin Hagens was sharp on the hill as he allowed one run on five hits over six innings en route to the game two victory. Hagens did not allow a walk and struck-out four batters. He was backed by two big offensive performances in the second inning.
Mike Freeman‘s two-run single and Nick Ahmed‘s two-run double in the second inning proved to be enough for Reno to tie up the series.
Despite the loss, Omaha led the way with eight hits in the game. Four of the eight hits came off the bat of University of South Carolina product Whit Merrifield, who went 4-for-4 with a double and a run scored. Merrifield is hitting .480 in six playoff games — leading the PCL in hits (12) and home runs (3). Pedro Ciriaco chipped in with two hits.
Omaha starter John Lamb lasted just two innings after allowing the four runs in the second frame. The Omaha bullpen combined to toss six shutout innings.
The two teams will now have an off day on Thursday and will get things going for game three in Omaha on Friday. LHP Andrew Chafin gets the nod for Reno against RHP Sugar Ray Marimon for Omaha. The Storm Chasers are looking to get back to the Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game for the second time in as many years. Stay tuned.