Zelous Wheeler plated two runs with a one-out single in the bottom of the ninth, lifting Norfolk to a 3-2 comeback win over the Durham Bulls in front of 7,280 fans Thursday night at Harbor Park.
With the Tides trailing 2-1 entering the final frame, Jonathan Schoop ignited the rally with a leadoff single against Kirby Yates (3-2). One out later, Alex Liddi drove a double into right-center field, putting runners on second and third to set the stage for Wheeler's heroics. Wheeler followed by lining a 1-2 pitch into center field, plating both Schoop and Liddi to give Norfolk its seventh walk-off win of the season.
The victory was the fourth for Norfolk when trailing after eight innings and helped the Tides gain ground in the IL Wild Card standings. With 11 games remaining in the season, Norfolk now trails Rochester by 2.0 games in the Wild Card standings.
Norfolk starter Zach Britton turned in a solid outing as he allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits in seven strong innings of work. Britton allowed just a third inning RBI double to Jesus Flores and an RBI groundout to Vince Belnome in the fourth as he matched his season high with seven innings pitched. The 25-year-old southpaw struck out two and walked four, throwing 51 of his 91 pitches for strikes.
Over his last three starts, Britton has gone 2-0 with a 2.64 ERA (5-ER, 17.0-IP), as he's allowed just 11 hits while holding opponents to a .183 average (11-for-60).
Henry Urrutia paced Norfolk's 10-hit attack with three singles, while Schoop added two singles and a run scored.
Jairo Asencio (5-0) earned the win with a scoreless ninth inning of relief.
The two clubs will continue their four-game, home-and-home series Friday night at Harbor Park with first pitch set for 7:05. Josh Stinson (7-5, 3.75) is slated to take the mound for Norfolk against right-hander J.D. Martin (15-4, 2.84).
Notes: Wilson Betemit went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in his first MLB rehab game with the Tides…Steve Clevenger extended his consecutive on-base streak to 12 games with a single and a walk…A fourth inning throwing error by Chris Snyder snapped Norfolk's eight-game errorless streak…The Tides did not hit a home run in the contest, snapping a streak of homering in nine consecutive games…Henry Urrutia was denied an extra-base hit in the second inning on an exceptional diving catch by Bulls centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier.