DURHAM, N.C. - The Durham Bulls clinched the International League South Division title with a 4-2 win over the Gwinnett Braves at the DBAP Monday night, marking their second straight division title.
The IL South crown is the seventh in eight seasons for Durham since manager Charlie Montoyo took the helm of the Bulls in 2007, and in the 17 seasons that Durham has been in the International League the team has won the South Division 12 times, while also clinching the Wild Card in 2004.
The Bulls (71-65) jumped out to an early lead, scoring two runs in the third inning. Mike Fontenot drove in the first run on an RBI grounder, and Cole Figueroa followed with an RBI single. Both Fontenot and Figueroa were 3-for-4 on the night.
The champagne had to wait, however. Gwinnett scored a run in the fourth on Sean Kazmar's RBI double. The Braves (60-76) tied it in the sixth, when Bulls starter Matt Andriese hit Todd Cunningham, made a throwing error on a pickoff, and walked two batters. Cunningham scored the tying run on Ali Solis' passed ball.
The Bulls responded in the bottom of the inning. Fontenot doubled to right center to lead off the inning, and Figueroa singled him to third, before Fontenot scampered home on a double play grounder.
The bullpen wrapped up the crown, as Steve Geltz (3-3) retired seven straight batters to earn the win, and Josh Lueke pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his eleventh save.
The Bulls will open the 2014 Governors' Cup playoffs on Wednesday, September 3rd on the road against the West Division champions for Games One and Two of the best-of-Five series. The first round will shift to Durham Bulls Athletic Park for Game Three on Friday, September 5th, with Games Four and Five (if necessary) following on Saturday and Sunday.
The Bulls and G-Braves head south for a two-game series in Gwinnett beginning Tuesday. RHP Nathan Karns (9-7, 4.56) starts for the Bulls against RHP Zach Stewart (6-4, 4.94) for the Braves.