Results tagged ‘ Durham Bulls ’

Knights Knotes: Knights @ Bulls – April 10, 2016

KNIGHT LIGHTS: The Charlotte Knights (Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) knights knotesconclude their opening series of the 2016 season tonight with the finale of their four-game series at 5:05 p.m. from Durham, NC against the Durham Bulls (Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays). The Knights dropped the opening game of the series – and of the season – on Thursday by a score of 7-3, but charged back against the Bulls with an 8-6 win on Friday in game two. Last night, the Bulls came-from-behind to take game three by a score of 3-2. The Knights will look for a series split with a win in tonight’s game. The Knights then hit the road and head to Norfolk, VA to open a three-game series against the Tides. Opening Knight in Uptown Charlotte is set for Thursday, April 14th.

ABOUT LAST KNIGHT: Charlotte RHP Phillippe Aumont (0-1, 18.00) uncorked three wild pitches in the eighth inning, which helped lead the Durham Bulls to a 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Charlotte Knights on Saturday night from Durham, NC. The Knights went to the eighth up by a score of 2-1 courtesy of solo home runs from Hector Sanchez and Jacob May, but the Bulls charged back to earn their second win in as many days. Charlotte RHP Chris Beck started and fanned seven over five innings, but did not factor in the decision.

MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU: OF Jacob May launched his first career Triple-A home run last night – a solo home run – which gave the Knights a 2-1 lead over the Bulls in game three. May entered the season ranked by Baseball America as the fifth-best prospect in Chicago’s system. May was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 3rd round of the 2013 draft. He hit .275 with 37 stolen bases last season for Double-A Birmingham.

#400: C Hector Sanchez launched a solo home run last night, his first since August 20, 2015 while playing for Triple-A Sacramento. The hit was the 400th of his minor league career, which has spanned 10 seasons (including 2016), even though he is only 26 years old (signed by Giants as 16-year-old in 2007). Sanchez was signed by the White Sox as a free agent on December 22, 2015.

COATS OF ARMOR: OF Jason Coats had a three-hit night on Friday and added a single in last night’s game to extend his hit streak to nine consecutive games dating back to 9/2/15. He has reached base in 13 straight games dating back to 8/29/15. Over that span, Coats is hitting .351 (13-for-37) with four doubles and four RBIs. Coats, who had 81 RBIs last season with the Knights, is in his fourth professional season since being drafted by the White Sox in the 29th round of the 2012 draft. He has compiled at least 80 RBIs in each of his first three campaigns. He entered this season ranked by MLB.com as the number 17 prospect in the Chicago White Sox system.

TODAY’S PROBABLES: Turner_Jacob
CHA
RHP Jacob Turner (1-1, 2.00 w/TEN, 2015)
@ DUR RHP Austin Pruitt (10-7, 3.09 w/MTG, 2015)

Knights Starter: RHP Jacob Turner makes his Charlotte Knights debut tonight in the finale of the four-game series. Turner, who was claimed off waivers from the Chicago Cubs on October 27, 2015, made just two rehab starts last season for Double-A Tennessee due to inflammation in his right shoulder. Turner went 1-1 with a 2.00 ERA in those two starts last year. Turner has appeared in parts of six major league seasons since being drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the first round of the 2009 draft. In 2011, he became the youngest Detroit pitcher to make a start at Comerica Park (20 years, 69 days old). He made a career high 20 starts with the Marlins in 2013 and posted a 3-8 record with a 3.74 ERA (118.0 IP). He went 4-7 with a 5.97 ERA in 20 games (12 starts) with the Marlins in 2014.

Bulls Starter: RHP Austin Pruitt will get the ball in tonight’s four-game series finale for the Durham Bulls. Tonight’s start will be his first at the Triple-A level for the 26-year-old right-hander. Pruitt, a native of Plano, TX, posted a 10-7 record with a 3.09 ERA in 26 games last season with Double-A Montgomery. He led Montgomery in wins, losses, complete games (2), shutouts (1), innings pitched (160.0), runs (60), and double plays (13). He was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 9th round of the 2013 draft. Among some of his accomplishments in 2013, Pruitt was named to the 2013 All-Conference USA Second Team, the 2013 ABCA South Central All-Region Second Team, the 2013 All-Silver Glove Series Team, a 2013 Semifinalist for the Gregg Olson Award for Breakout Player of the Year. He led the University of Houston pitching staff in wins (10), ERA (2.55), games started (15), innings pitched (113.2) and strikeouts (92).

LOS IS MORE: 2B Carlos Sanchez, who returned to the Knights for his fifth season with the club on Thursday (2012-pres.), launched his first home run of the season on Friday and continued with a single on Saturday. Sanchez has hit safely in all three games so far this season. Just 23 years old, Sanchez is ranked among some of the Charlotte Knights all-time franchise leaders in a number of categories. Sanchez is now fourth in hits (291), fifth in at-bats (1,052), and 11th in runs scored (134). He is just nine games (265) away from 10th place in games (Matt Davidson has 274 for 10th place) and is in a tie for fifth place with eight triples.

Knights Knotes: Knights @ Bulls – April 9, 2016

knights knotesKNIGHT LIGHTS: The Charlotte Knights (Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) continue the 2016 regular season tonight with game three of their four-game series at 5:05 p.m. from Durham, NC against the Durham Bulls (Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays). The Knights dropped the opening game of the series – and of the season – on Friday by a score of 7-3, but charged back against the Bulls with an 8-6 win last night in game two. The two teams will play two more games in this series, before meeting again on Thursday, April 14th — the team’s third Opening Knight in Uptown Charlotte – at BB&T Ballpark in the start of a four-game set.

ABOUT LAST KNIGHT: Matt Davidson’s first inning home run set the tone, and Travis Ishikawa, Jason Coats, and Carlos Sanchez chipped in to help lead the Knights to an 8-6 win last night. The win was Charlotte’s first of the year and first against the Bulls since September 3, 2015 at BB&T Ballpark (11-7). RHP Erik Johnson, the reigning IL Most Valuable Pitcher, allowed four runs on seven hits over five innings and did not factor in the decision.davidson_military_web

WELCOME MATT: After a spring in which he hit .419 with five home runs, Matt Davidson started strong on Friday. In just his first at-bat of the game — and just his fifth of the season — the slugger launched his 44th career Knights home run to give the Knights an early 1-0 lead. Davidson finished the game 1-for-4 at the plate with the home run and two runs scored. Last season, the California native led the IL with 23 home runs. Last night’s home run was the 124th of his minor league career. He has recorded at least 20 home runs in each of the last five seasons. He also led the IL in games (141) and finished second in the IL in at-bats (528), and second in walks (62). Defensively, Davidson led all IL third baseman in fielding percentage (.971), as well as all IL third baseman in assists (281), and tied for first in double plays (24) with Syracuse third baseman Jason Martinson. Davidson was named by Baseball America as the Best Defensive 3B in the International League in 2015. Davidson is ninth in Knights franchise history in home runs (43), 10th in at-bats (1,010), and 10th in games (272). He is now just four at-bats away from moving into a tie for ninth place with Chris Clapinski. He is just one home run away from tying Josh Fields for eighth place and three way from tying Josh Phegley for seventh place.

TONIGHT’S STARTING PITCHERS:
CHA RHP Chris Beck (3-2, 3.15 w/CHA, 2015)
@ DUR RHP Jamie Schultz (9-5, 3.67 w/MTG, 2015)

Chris BeckKNIGHTS STARTING PITCHER: RHP Chris Beck gets the nod tonight for the Knights — his fourth career start against the Durham Bulls. Beck, who was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the second round of the 2012 draft, went 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in two starts against the Bulls last year (10.0 IP). Before that, he beat the Bulls in his first career start against the club back on 7/29 at BB&T Ballpark (5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 5 SO). It was just his second career Triple-a start and first career Triple-A win. Overall in three games against the Bulls, Beck is 1-1 with a 2.40 ERA (15.0 IP, 12 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 14 SO). Beck made his Major League debut last season with Chicago in game two of a doubleheader against Baltimore (L, 6.0 IP, 10 H, 5, R, 4 ER, 3 SO). Beck is a product of Georgia Southern University.

BULLS STARTING PITCHER: RHP Jamie Schultz gets the nod in game three of the four-game series tonight from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, NC. Schultz, a native of Albany, NY, was a 14th round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2013 draft out of High Point University (High Point, NC). Last season, the 24-year-old righty compiled a 9-5 record with a 3.67 ERA in 27 games for Double-A Montgomery. He struck-out 168 batters in 135.0 IP and was a Mid-Season Southern League All-Star. This will be his first career Triple-A start tonight.

CHARLOTTE’S WEBB: RHP Daniel Webb earned his first win of the season last night after allowing one run on three hits over two innings of work out of the bullpen. The Paducah, KY native went 2-1 with a 3.81 ERA last season in 18 games with the Knights. The 2016 season is his third with Charlotte. He was 1-1 with a 2.96 ERA in 21 games with the club in 2014.

GETTING ISHI WIT IT
: 1B Travis Ishikawa ripped four hits last night with the Knights and finished the game 4-for-5 with two runs scored, one double, and one RBI. The 32-year-old last had a four-hit game on April 18, 2011 when he was a member of the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies. Ishikawa was signed by the Chicago White Sox as a free agent on February 9. He last played for the Knights in 2013 – appearing in 34 games for the club during their final season at Knights Stadium in Fort Mill, SC.

LOS IS MORE: 2B Carlos Sanchez, who returned to the Knights for his fifth season with the club on Thursday (2012-pres.), launched his first home run of the season last night. Sanchez went 2-for-5 with two runs scored. Just 23 years old, Sanchez is ranked among some of the Charlotte Knights all-time franchise leaders in a number of categories. Sanchez is now fourth in hits (290), fifth in at-bats (1,048), and 11th in runs scored (134). He is also just nine games away from 10th place in games (Matt Davidson has 273 for 10th place) and is in a tie for fifth place with eight triples.

COATS OF ARMOR: OF Jason Coats added a three-hit night last evening in Durham. Coats, who had 81 RBIs last season with the Knights, also led the way in that department last night as he drove in three runs. The TCU standout, who is in his fourth professional season since being drafted by the White Sox in the 29th round of the 2012 draft, has compiled at least 80 RBIs in each of his first three campaigns. He entered this season ranked by MLB.com as the number 17 prospect in the Chicago White Sox system.Jason Coats_Charlotte Knights 2015

OPENING DAY ROSTER ANNOUNCED: The Charlotte Knights Opening Day roster was officially announced on Thursday and features 12 players who have worn a Knights jersey previously (11 from last season). Those players are Chris Beck, Scott Carroll, Erik Johnson, Terance Marin, Blake Smith, Daniel Webb, and position players Jason Coats, Matt Davidson, Leury Garcia, Carlos Sanchez, and Kevan Smith. 1B Travis Ishikawa appeared in 34 games with the Knights in 2013.

NEW MANAGER FOR 2016: Julio Vinas began his first season at the helm of the Knights – and first as a Triple-A manager – on Thursday. Last night, Charlotte’s skipper earned his first career Triple-A victory – and the 277th of his managerial career. Vinas, a native of Miami, FL is now in his sixth overall season as a manager in Chicago’s system. He spent the last three years as manager of Birmingham and guided the club to a SL Championship in 2013.

Knights Knotes — April 21, 2015

KNIGHT LIGHTS: After coming off their shortest game of the season (2:14) in their previous outing (Saturday), and being rained out on Sunday, the Knights had their longest night of the season last night after a one-hour and 29-minute rain delay got things started. After the delay, the Knights and Bulls battled in a two-hour and 43-minute game. The two teams will have an early start today as the Knights and Bulls will play an 11:05 a.m. game. The Knights will host an 11:05 a.m. game at BB&T Ballpark on Wednesday, April 29 against Toledo. knights knotes

LAST KNIGHTS GAME: The Charlotte Knights (7-4) had their four-game winning streak snapped by their in-state rival Durham Bulls (5-7), falling 5-1 on Monday night. The Bulls pitching staff was able to keep the Knights offense – who had tallied at least five runs in seven of their first 10 games – to only one run on six hits; both season-lows. Durham starter Everett Teaford allowed one run on five hits over six innings for the win. With the loss, the Knights enter today’s game 0.5 games behind Norfolk for first place in the IL South.

KNIGHTS STARTER: RHP Chris Beck (0-0, 3.72), who is ranked as the number 11 prospect in the Chicago White Sox system by Baseball America, toes the rubber this morning for the Knights in his third start of the season. Beck, 24, last pitched for the Knights on April 15 in Gwinnett and was solid over five innings of one-run ball in a no-decision. In seven starts with the Knights last season, Beck posted a 1-3 record with a 4.05 ERA (33.1 IP, 36 H, 16 R, 15 ER, 13 BB, 28 SO). He began the 2014 campaign with the Double-A Birmingham Barons and posted a 5-8 mark with a 3.39 ERA in 20 starts before a promotion to Charlotte on June 26. He started his first career Triple-A game on June 26 against Louisville and was saddled with the loss after allowing five runs on five hits over 4.2 innings pitched. He was sent back to Birmingham the next day. He was promoted back to Charlotte on July 28. He went a combined 6-11 with a 3.54 ERA in 27 starts between both stops. He ranked among the White Sox minor leaguers in shutouts (T-1st), ERA (4th) and IP (4th). He entered the 2014 season ranked by Baseball America as the number nine prospect in Chicago’s system and as possessing the Best Changeup in the organization. Beck was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2012 draft out of Georgia Southern University.

BATTING AVERAGE LEADER: Speaking of hit-streaks, Carlos Sanchez continued his impressive 2015 season last night. Sanchez, who was named as the IL Player of the Week for the period of April 13-19, earlier in the day, hit safely in his eighth game of the season and ninth-straight overall dating back to August 20, 2014. Sanchez, who began the season in Chicago with the White Sox, went 1-for-4 with an RBI last night and is now hitting .439 over his nine-game hit-streak. He is hitting an IL best .459 in eight games this season. Last week, he appeared in six games for the Knights and hit a stunning .536 (15-for-28) with six runs scored, four doubles, six RBIs, and one stolen base. The 22-year-old infielder is currently tied for first overall in the IL in hits (17) and ranked third in on-base percentage (.474).

THRICE IS NICE: 3B Matt Davidson had three of Charlotte’s six hits last night, finishing 3-for-4 on the evening. It was his first three-hit game since August 11, 2014 at Syracuse. He had six three-hit games last season. Davidson has hit safely in seven of his 10 games this year and has an RBI in five of his 10 games.

10-GAMERS: CF Trayce Thompson’s 10-game hit streak came to an end last night after he went 0-for-4 on the evening. Thompson entered play last night as the only IL player this season to hit safely in all 10 games played in. Teammate Tyler Saladino had a 10-game hit streak that was snapped back on April 11, 2015. He started that streak back on July 4, 2014. Last season, the Knights saw five different players accumulate hit streaks of 10 games or more, including catcher Josh Phegley, who hit in a team-high 17-straight games from June 30-July 24.

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.

All Tied At One After Two

Game twoTriple A Championship logo 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.

Triple-A Finals: Game One Rewind

Game one in both the IL and PCL Finals are in the books with the Pawtucket Red Sox beating the Durham Bulls in Pawtucket by a score of 3-2 and the Omaha Storm Chasers coming out on top in their matchup against the Reno Aces in Reno by a score of 6-2 on Tuesday. If Omaha and Durham were to win and move on to the National Championship Game on September 16 at BB&T Ballpark, it would be a rematch of last year’s game from Allentown, PA. Omaha came away with the win.

Let’s take a look back at each game one from Tuesday and a look at some of the players that stood out in each series.

Durham Bulls at Pawtucket Red SoxPawSox win 3-2

The PawSox were led in game one by starter Edwin Escobar — who was sharp on the mound over seven innings of work. Escobar gave up two runs on six hits over seven innings en route to the win in the 3-2 victory over Durham. Escobar threw 101 pitches, striking out five batters and walking none. The Pawtucket bullpen followed up Escobar’s solid start with two shutout innings out of the bullpen. College of Charleston product Heath Hembree earned the save after recording the final four outs in the game. Hembree, a native of Spartanburg, SC, has not allowed a run in three playoff games this season. He’s 2-for-2 in save opportunities as well.

Durham starter Enny Romero lasted just three innings — allowing three runs on six hits and was saddled with the loss. The Durham bullpen combined to throw five scoreless innings. Doug Mathis pitched three scoreless, while Cory Burns did not allow a run over the final two.

The PawSox as a team are leading the IL playoffs with a .288 batting average and are tied with Durham for most hits with 40. On Tuesday, it was Durham with eight hits leading the way, as Pawtucket managed just seven. Still, Pawtucket got what they needed as they scored a run in each of the first three innings. Garin Cecchini‘s sacrifice fly RBI in the bottom of the third inning proved to be the game-winner.

Rusney Castillo took a step closer to the majors on Tuesday — playing for the Pawtucket Red Sox and making his Triple-A debut in game one. Castillo, who was recently signed by Boston out of Cuba, appeared in six professional games before Tuesday — making his way through the system. He went 6-for-19 in six games –finishing up with Double-A Portland in their playoff series against the Binghamton Mets. In four games, Castillo hit .357 (5-for-14) with four runs scored, two doubles, and two RBIs.

In game two on Wednesday, RHP Jesus Colome gets the start for the Durham Bulls against LHP Brian Johnson for the PawSox. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.

Omaha Storm Chasers at Reno Aces – Storm Chasers win 6-2

The Storm Chasers got off to a solid start in game one on Tuesday — scoring three runs in the first inning and three runs in the second inning en route to victory. Five Omaha sluggers had at least two hits each and the team combined to rope 11 hits in game one. University of South Carolina product Whit Merrifield had another solid game. The Advance, NC native went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a walk. Merrifield is hitting .381 (8-for-21) in five playoff games this year. Currently, he’s third in batting average, first in home runs (3), and tied for second in RBIs (4). Brett Hayes chipped in with two hits and two RBIs, while Cheslor Cuthbert also had two hits and two RBIs.

Omaha starter Aaron Brooks allowed two runs on four hits over seven innings en route to the win. Brooks, who I wrote about as a player to keep an eye on here, allowed two runs on four hits over seven innings en route to his second win of the 2014 playoffs. He walked one, struck-out five, and needed tossed 100 pitches. In game one of the PCL playoffs, Brooks matched a career-high with 10 strikeouts over eight innings. He allowed just five hits in the 7-0 win over Memphis.

Others notes on Tuesday from game one: Royals number one prospect Kyle Zimmer threw a scorless inning out of the bullpen on Tuesday as he continues to work his way back from an injury… Reno catcher Blake Lalli — a product of Gardner-Webb University, went 1-for 3 in the loss… Veteran slugger Mike Jacobs was 1-for-4 for Reno… Omaha is hitting .280 as a team to lead the PCL in the playoffs… Reno is hitting .265 with a team-high seven home runs… Former Knights hurler Clayton Richard started for Reno and allowed three runs on four hits in just 0.2 IP and was dealt the loss… He threw 29 pitches in the first inning before being removed.

LHP John Lamb gets the ball for Omaha in game two against Reno RHP Bradin Hagens. First pitch is set for 10:05 PM ET on Wednesday.

The Bulls Are Back in the Finals…

The Durham Bulls beat the Columbus Clippers on Saturday by a score of 4-2 in Durham, NC to move on to the Governors’ Cup Finals. The Bulls lost the first game in Columbus, but then went on to win the final three games en route to the series win.4516

In what will be a rematch of last year’s finals, the Bulls move on to face the Pawtucket Red Sox, who clinched on Friday night after sweeping the Syracuse Chiefs. Last season, the Bulls beat the PawSox in four games and moved on to play in the Triple-A National Championship Game. Durham lost the Triple-A National Championship Game to Omaha in Allentown, PA.

More on the Durham Bulls:

After dropping game one to the Clippers by a score of 9-4, the Bulls won games two and three by one run each, and game four on Saturday by two runs. Offensively, the Bulls hit just .239 over their four games. Cole Figueroa and Nick Franklin led the way with solid offensive showings in their four games at the plate. Figueroa hit .375 (6-for-16), while Franklin hit a series high .462 (6-for-13).

As for pitching, the Bulls got two solid starts in their series with Columbus. Their game four starter, Nate Karns, was impressive. Karns led the Bulls back to the championship game after allowing just one run on three hits over seven innings on Saturday. He walked just one batter and struck-out 12. Game three starter Matt Andriese was solid and allowed two runs on three hits over five innings. Andriese struck-out eight batters and earned the game three win. Reliever Adam Liberatore was sharp in two appearances in the series, tossing two scoreless innings and notching two saves.

PROSPECTS:

The Bulls roster is full of Tampa Bay Rays prospects. Looking through the 2014 Baseball America Prospect Handbook, you’ll find that the current Bulls roster is made up of four of the Top 10 prospects — including the number two prospect — Hak-Ju Lee. Lee got off to a great start to the 2013 season — hitting .422 over 15 games — before tearing ligaments in his left knee in a collision at second base. He had surgery in late April of last season and missed the remainder of the year. He made his return to the Bulls on April 23 of this season and appeared in 93 games for the club this year — hitting .203 (64-for-315) with four home runs, 23 RBIs, and 12 stolen bases.

Number four prospect Enny Romero, started game two and allowed three runs on six hits over five innings and did not factor in the decision. Romero, 23, went 5-11 with a 4.50 ERA in 25 games started for the Bulls. Number five prospect Alex Colome started game one and allowed four runs on five hits over five innings and was saddled with the loss. He went 7-6 with a 3.77 ERA in 15 games started for the Bulls this season. Colome also went 2-1 with a 2.79 ERA in two games (one start) for the Rays this year.

Rounding out the Tampa Bay Rays Top 10 Prospects list is Tim Beckham, who entered the season ranked ninth by Baseball America. Beckham began the 2014 on the shelf after tearing his ACL in the offseason. He made his way back to Durham in August and made his 2014 Bulls debut on August 12. That was a great game for Beckham, who went 4-for-6 with three runs scored and an RBI in his return to Triple-A. In 15 games, he hit .258 (16-for-62). In four games during the first round of the playoffs, Beckham hit .267 with two doubles and two RBIs.

FORMER KNIGHTS:

Wilson Betemit was a 2014 International League Midseason All-Star and hit 18 home runs and drove in 50 runs for the Durham Bulls this season. Betemit, 32, has played 14 seasons in the minors and has 89 home runs over that span. He played for the Charlotte Knights in 2009 and hit .241 with 11 home runs and 49 RBIs over 72 games.

Ray Olmedo played for the Charlotte Knights in 2012 — the same season the team went to the Governors’ Cup Finals. Olmedo is a mainstay in the International League and is in his third season with the Durham Bulls (2009, 2011, and 2014). Olmedo has spent 11 of his 16 Minor League seasons in the IL. He’s played for Louisville, Syracuse, Columbus, Durham, Charlotte, and Rochester. In 12 seasons as the Triple-A level (also spent a season in Nashville in 2010), Olmedo has 967 career hits. Overall, Olmedo has 1,403 hits in his 16 year Minor League career.

KEEP AN EYE ON:

Mikie Mahtook was a 2014 International League Midseason All-Star and played in front of his hometown fans at the Triple-A All-Star Game this season. Mahtook entered the season ranked by Baseball America as the 25th best prospect in the Tampa Bay organization. After a solid 2013 campaign in Montgomery (Double-A), Mahtook showed improvement all across the board in 2014 with the Bulls. He hit .292 (143-489) with 33 doubles, six triples, 12 home runs, 68 RBIs, and 18 stolen bases over 132 games. The 24-year-old finished fifth in the IL in hits, tied for fourth in triples, sixth in doubles, and fourth in total bases (224).

MANAGER:

Charlie Montoyo had a record-breaking season and it continues into the playoffs. Montoyo, who is the winningest manager in Bulls franchise history, takes his team back to the Governors’ Cup Championship series for the second-straight year. Even more than that, Montoyo’s resume is one of the best. He has won seven division championships in his tenure with the Bulls, along with two IL Championships (2009, and 2013) and a Triple-A National Championship (2009). Can he lead his team to another IL Championship and a shot to play for the Triple-A Championship for the second year straight?

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!