A resounding series victory over Jacksonville this past week allowed the Durham Bulls to ease into first place in the International League East standings by themselves for the first time in several weeks — though they’ve been close (or tied) for most of the summer.
The one loss during the series was Thursday, but the Bulls (62-49) rebounded with three consecutive wins to close out the Jumbo Shrimp.
Durham capitalized on its back-to-back victories. Jonathon Aranda walked to the plate with the bases loaded in a tie game. With a full count, Aranda connected on a single to right field to bring home three runs for Durham in an 11-8 series-clinching victory.
Across the week, Durham controlled the series. The Bulls scored three runs in the first inning of Game 1 as Rene Pinto connected on his ninth home run to give the Bulls a 3-1 lead. Durham shut the door with a dominant four-run eighth inning to capture the series opener, 8-4.
Game 2 was an offensive bonanza. After Jacksonville scored two first-inning runs, Durham chipped away at the lead on a Xavier Edward single to cut into the deficit, 2-1. The Bulls broke the game open in the third inning after a Tristan Gray home run extended the lead to 5-2. In the bottom of the sixth, Ruben Cardenas hit a double to left field that brought in two runs, extending the lead to 7-2.
After scoring another run to extend the lead to 8-2, the Bulls held off a Jacksonville rally — barely — and escaped with a 10-9 win.
The Bulls dropped Game 3, 5-4. Highly touted pitching prospect Taj Bradley hurled six innings, striking out four and allowing two runs.
Durham captured Game 4, 4-3. Gray put Durham on the board first with a two-run home run in the bottom of the second. Miles Mastrobuoni connected on a fly ball to center field for a solo home run (10), extending the lead to 3-0.
A sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth pushed the lead to 4-0. Jacksonville battled back with a three-run seventh inning, but the Bulls held them off.
It was a complete team effort for the Durham Bulls in their series-clinching Game 5 win. Gray belted his Triple-A-leading 28th home run of the season. The bullpen combined to strike out the Jumbo Shrimp 10 times.
SHARK BAIT HOO HA HA
Tristan Gray crushes his International League leading 28th homer to give us a 6-5 lead! pic.twitter.com/9aV7wjntfY
— Durham Bulls (@DurhamBulls) August 13, 2022
After closing out the series on Sunday with a win, Durham is in first place in the International League East division. The Bulls travel to Norfolk to challenge the Tides (51-59) for a six-game set this week.
Mudcats tie their MiLB series
The Carolina Mudcats continued their up-and-down season this week with a series split against the Delmarva Shorebirds.
The Mudcats (53-50) won Game 1 of their six-game series against Delmarva — the Single-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles — by a score of 7-5. Delmarva struck first with three runs at the top of the first. Carolina fought back with two runs in the third . Both teams remained in striking distance of each other until a home run from Jose Sibrian sealed the Mudcats’ win.
Carolina captured Game 2 in the first game of a doubleheader. Jesus Chirino doubled to bring home the first run of the game. Second baseman Robert Moore doubled on a line drive to right field, bringing in two runs. Chirino connected on his second double of the game, bringing in an additional run. Stiven Cruz hurled 4.0 innings, striking out four and walking one batter in the 4-0 victory.
Delmarva halted the Mudcats’ momentum with a 6-4 victory in Game 3. Edwin Jimenez threw 4.1 innings, allowing four runs and nine hits.
The Mudcats dropped Game 4, also, 2-0. Alexander Vallecillo threw 5 innings, allowing just one run, but the offense couldn’t get untracked.
Carolina controlled Game 5 and raced away with a 6-0 victory. Hedbert Perez connected on a home run, his 13th of the season, in the victory. Alexander Cornielle went 6.0 innings, striking out 10 while allowing two hits.
The Mudcats dropped the series finale, 3-2. The Mudcats were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Fernando Olguin allowed two runs and 10 hits in his five innings.
Carolina will host Fayetteville (47-60) this week.