Durham Bulls split, Carolina Mudcats win their MiLB series


MUDCATS1.SP.041604.CCS---HAVIN' A BALL-- Workers put the finishing touches on one of the new additions for the Mudcats -- a giant baseball painted on the water tower near the stadium on Friday evening 4/16.  The Mudcats play its home opener against Birmingham Friday night.  staff/Chris Seward

MUDCATS1.SP.041604.CCS—HAVIN’ A BALL– Workers put the finishing touches on one of the new additions for the Mudcats — a giant baseball painted on the water tower near the stadium on Friday evening 4/16. The Mudcats play its home opener against Birmingham Friday night. staff/Chris Seward

Chris Seward

Tristan Gray belted his 25th home run of the season Sunday during the Durham Bulls’ 9-3 win over the Worcester Red Sox, the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, helping the Bulls salvage a series split in Worcester.

Across the week, Durham (57-48) showcased the highs and lows of its team. The Bulls bashed the Red Sox (54-51) 16-0 in the first game of the series. Jim Haley launched his 15th home run of the season to give the Bulls a 2-0 lead at the top of the second inning. Haley’s home run kickstarted the offensive eruption. Ruben Cardenas doubled to left field at the top of the fifth to bring home two runners, extending the lead to 4-0.

Tristan Gray launched a three-run home run with two runners on base to break open the game. Durham scored four runs after the homer, building a commanding 11-0 lead entering the sixth inning. The Red Sox couldn’t stop the bleeding as the Bulls piled on the runs. After a single from Ryan Boldt that brought in a run, Miles Mastrobuoni connected on a grand slam to clear the bases and put the finishing touches on a dominant showing.

The win in Game 2 wasn’t an offensive masterpiece like the previous game, but the offense scored just enough to support the superb pitching performance and secure a 3-1 win. Kevin Herget hurled four innings, striking out six. Grant Witherspoon connected on two solo home runs, and David Rodriguez scored on a wild pitch.

Durham was shellacked in Game 3, losing 12-0 and being no-hit in the thrashing. Former MLB pitcher Michael Wacha went 4.2 innings, striking out eight batters. Worcester took command of the series, capturing Games 4 and 5 as Durham’s offense went silent, only scoring two total runs.

The series finale — keyed by Gray’s home run — allowed the Bulls to emerge with a tie in the series.

The Bulls return to DBAP to host the International League East-leading Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (59-46) this week.

CAROLINA WINS SERIES

The Carolina Mudcats (52-50) have battled inconsistency throughout the season, but overcame that this past week to take four of six from the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers.

The Mudcats dropped Game 1 of the six-game series, 3-1. Despite a strong showing from Jeferson Figueroa, who threw six innings and struck out seven, the offense didn’t match him.

The offense righted the ship in Games 2 and 3. Eduardo Garcia homered, his third of the season, in Game 2 to give Carolina an early lead. After trading the lead with Kannapolis, the Mudcats’ Luis Castillo hit his first home run to put Carolina out in front for good and take home a 5-3 win.

Carolina jumped on Kannapolis in Game 3 and didn’t relent. Jesus Chirinos knocked a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning. Chirinos came out for an encore performance in the bottom of the second, providing a moment of deja vu as he launched another two-run home run to extend the Carolina lead to 5-0. Despite a late rally, Carolina survived for the Game 3 win, 7-4.

The Mudcats dropped Game 4 before rebounding and capturing Games 5 and 6. The offense notched 18 runs over the two games.

Next up for Carolina is a showdown against the Delmarva Shorebirds, the Single-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.

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