The largest crowd of the year packed the DBAP on Friday night and it didn't have to wait until after the game for fireworks. The first-place Bulls hit a grand slam and turned a triple play in front of 9,644 fans to beat the Toledo Mud Hens 5-4 and win the four-game series.
For the fourth straight night, Toledo scored first, forcing the Bulls to battle back. In the third inning, catcher Juan Apodaca's throwing error allowed Kevin Russo to reach on a bunt, and, with two outs, Ben Guez hit a home run over the Blue Monster.
The two-run shot was the only mistake by winning pitcher Alex Torres (2-0, 1.29) who struck out a Bulls season-high 10 batters in five innings, moving into third place among IL strikeout leaders.
The Bulls responded in the bottom of the inning. Tim Beckham and Juan Apodaca started things with singles, and Rich Thompson walked to load the bases with nobody out. Toledo managed to get two outs with no damage, which brought second baseman Vince Belnome to the plate.
Belnome rocketed a 2-1 pitch from losing pitcher Casey Crosby (1-4, 5.32) to deep right field for a grand slam, putting Durham on top 4-2. It was Belnome's third home run of the year and his first grand slam since August 6 of last year, when he was with Tucson in the Pacific Coast League. The Bulls' last grand slam was hit by former shortstop Reid Brignac, who accomplished the feat against Gwinnett last July 25.
Durham added an unearned run in the fourth on third baseman Kevin Russo's bases-loaded error. The 5-2 lead looked to be in jeopardy in the sixth, after Toledo's first two runners reached base against reliever Steve Geltz. Bryan Holaday hit a hard grounder to third baseman Cole Figueroa, who stepped on the bag to force the lead runner. He threw to second baseman Belnome to force the trail runner. Belnome then threw to first baseman Chris Gimenez to complete the around-the-horn triple play, Durham's first since August 2, 2005 against Norfolk.
Toledo scored a pair in the eighth, including one on the Mud Hens' twelfth home run of the series, but Josh Lueke was able to close out the win for his fifth save of the year.
The Bulls now hit the road to close out April. Durham plays at Syracuse Saturday night at 7:00pm. RHP Alex Colome (1-2, 2.08) starts for the Bulls against the Chiefs' LHP Danny Rosenbaum (1-1, 1.62).