It always seems as though that final game to make the playoffs is the hardest. There is usually that late inning comeback to clinch a playoff spot, or the team that advances has to fend off a late rally. However, do not tell that to the Durham Bulls, who clinched the Southern Division in the International League in a blowout last night.
Durham Bulls 9, Charlotte Knights (White Sox) 2
The Knights held a brief 1-0 lead after half an inning last night, but that was short lived. After tying the game in the bottom of the first, Kevin Kiermaier had a two run double in the bottom of the second to give the Bulls a lead they would not relinquish. Jesus Flores added a two run single with two outs in the third, and the rout was on. Although the Knights got a run back in the top of the fourth, Shelley Duncan hit a two run home run to end any thoughts of a comeback. While the offense was plugging away, starter Merrill Kelly was making quick work of the Charlotte offense, holding the Knights in check for most of the game. A run scoring error and a force out in the seventh capped the scoring, as the Bulls popped the champagne following their easy 9-2 victory. Kelly earned the win, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks, striking out six in seven innings of work. Duncan and Flores each had three RBIs in the victory.
Montgomery Biscuits 5, Mississippi Braves 0
Enny Romero had been on a roll heading into last night’s start, having given up only three runs in his last three starts, totaling 15 innings. He outdid himself against the Braves, holding Mississippi’s offense down virtually all night. The Biscuits scored twice in the first on a base hit by Mikie Mahtook and an RBI groundout. Montgomery extended the lead in the third on base hits by Cameron Seitzer and Mayo Acosta to take a 4-0 lead. Those runs would be more than enough support for Romero, who faced his biggest scoring threat in the fourth. With one out and a runner on third, Robby Hefflinger hit a line drive to the mound. Romero caught the drive, and flipped the ball to third for the double play to end the threat. The biscuits scored an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh as they cruised to the 5-0 victory. Romero had an excellent start, pitching seven shutout innings, giving up five hits and a walk while striking out seven. Curt Casali continued his torrid run, going 2-2 with a run, an RBI and two walks. Mahtook was 3-4 with a double, an RBI, a walk and two runs scored in the win.
Charlotte Stone Crabs 2, Fort Myers Miracle (Twins) 1 (Game One – Nine Innings)
Miracle starter Matt Tomshaw and the Charlotte pitching staff had a nice pitcher’s duel through the first eight innings of the opening game to the double header. Fort Myers did not have a runner against Charlotte starter Grayson Garvin until the top of the fourth, when Byron Buxton led off with a base hit. Buxton worked his way around the bases, scoring on a sacrifice fly to give the Miracle an early lead. Buxton departed after the fourth, and the Charlotte bullpen went to work. The Stone Crabs tied the game in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI single by Jake Hager, and the game went into extras. Charlotte’s bullpen did an excellent job, holding the Miracle to three hits as the game continued. The Stone Crabs rallied in the bottom of the ninth, putting runners on first and second. After a double play, Drew Vettleson singled to left to plate Willie Argo with the game winning run as the Stone Crabs took a 2-1 victory. Matt Ramsey picked up the win, giving up a hit in two innings of relief. Alejandro Segovia had two hits in the victory.
Charlotte Stone Crabs 6, Fort Myers Miracle 0 (Game Two – Seven Innings)
They say you only get one chance to make a first impression. Jared Mortensen, a 25 year old pitcher who had been in independent ball prior to August 17th, certainly did his part to make sure his impression will be lasting. In his first start for the Stone Crabs, he was absolutely dominant, shutting down the Miracle as though he had been in the Florida State League for years. The Stone Crabs gave Mortensen the support he needed in the second, Jeff Malm had an RBI double and scored on a base hit by Lucas Bailey. Richie Shaffer had an RBI single in the third, and Charlotte pulled away in the fifth on Shaffer’s RBI double. The Stone Crabs tacked on two more insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth as they cruised to an easy 6-0 victory. Mortensen pitched a complete game, giving up two hits and two walks, striking out four in his seven innings. Shaffer was 2-4 with a double and two RBIs.
Bowling Green Hot Rods 9, West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers) 1
Scoreless into the bottom of the third, the Hot Rods offense roared to life against the Whitecaps. Joey Rickard kicked off the scoring with a two run homer, and Tyler Goeddel capped the four run outburst with an RBI double. Bowling Green put the game away with another four run outburst in the fifth, with an RBI double by Thomas Coyle and a run scoring triple by Goeddel as the big hits of the inning. Jeff Ames held the Whitecaps down for most of the game, only giving up a single run in the sixth as the Hot Rods pulled away with the 9-1 win. Ames picked up the victory, giving up the one run on three htis and two walks over six innings, striking out two. Goeddel was 4-4 with a double, a run scored and three RBIs. Coyle was 3-3 with two doubles, an RBI, a walk and three runs scored in the win.