The Bulls Are One Win Away from Charlotte

The Durham Bulls became the first team to take a two-games-to-one lead in the Triple-A Finals on Thursday — beating the Pawtucket Red Sox by a score of 4-3 at home in Durham, NC. With the win, the Bulls are now just one win away from repeating as Governors’ Cup Champions. They are also one win away from competing on Tuesday at BB&T Ballpark in the Gildan Triple-A National Championship Game.

Triple A Championship logo

The PCL was off on Thursday and the series shifts to Omaha tonight for game three. That series is all tied up at one game apiece. If Omaha goes on to win, and the Bulls end up getting one more win, it will be a rematch of last year’s Triple-A National Championship game from Allentown, PA.

Let’s take a look back at Thursday’s game and a brief look ahead to Friday’s matchup:

Durham starter Matt Andriese earned the win after allowing two runs on five hits over six innings. Andriese allowed a run in the second inning, as well as the third inning, but was solid the rest of the way. He was saddled with a 2-0 deficit to overcome, and he was quickly helped by his offense in the bottom of the third inning.

Justin Christian led off the bottom of the third frame with a double and Cole Figueroa then reached base to put runners on the corners with no outs. Two batters later, the Bulls added their first run of the game courtesy of a Jeremy Moore RBI single. The Bulls then broke-open the game thanks to Tim Beckham — who ripped a two-run double, which gave them a 3-2 lead at that point.

All three runs in the third inning came off Pawtucket starter Henry Owens, who was dealt the loss after giving up three runs on three hits over four innings. Owens also walked three and fanned five.

Durham second baseman Nick Franklin added an insurance run in the sixth inning — which proved to be huge in the game. Franklin ripped a solo home run in the sixth off reliever Noe Ramirez, which made it a 4-2 ballgame at that point. Franklin finished the game 2-for-3 with a double and a home run. He’s hitting .417 (10-for-24) over seven playoff games. His 10 hits and his .417 batting average (tied with Emmanuel Burris of Syracuse) are tops in the IL Playoffs this year.

Things got interesting in the top of the ninth inning as the PawSox rallied and pulled within a run. Reliever Josh Lueke came on in the ninth and retired the first batter he faced — Alex Hassan — but then ran into a bit of trouble. Lueke struck-out Ryan Lavarnway, but he reached base on a passed ball, which brought the tying run to the plate. Garin Cecchini then followed with a big RBI double to make it a 4-3 game. With the PawSox down by just one run, Lueke got Corey Brown to ground out and Blake Swihart to pop out to end the game. Lueke went on to earn his first save of the playoffs and the Bulls took a major step forward.

On Friday, the Bulls and PawSox will battle in game four. Durham will send LHP Mike Montgomery to the hill as they look to wrap up the series and keep the Governors’ Cup in Durham. Montgomery and the Bulls will have to face Pawtucket LHP Eduardo Rodriguez, who is making his Triple-A debut. First pitch is set for 7:05 PM from Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

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