The Charlotte Knights dealt the first-place Bulls their worst loss of the season Friday night, routing Durham 12-1 in the series opener at the DBAP. The 11-run differential was the largest margin of defeat for the Bulls this year, as Charlotte used an eight-run second to earn their first victory in Durham in 2013.
The first inning looked promising for the Bulls, as Merrill Kelly (L, 6-3, 3.45) sat down the visiting Knights in order. Kevin Kiermaier then led off the home half of the frame with a homer to center, his first career Triple-A round tripper.
The wheels came off for Kelly in the second though. After allowing three straight singles and a walk to start the inning, he induced a grounder to first but Vince Belnome sailed a throw home allowing Mike McDade to score. Kelly would allow three more singles and another walk without recording an out before Charlie Montoyo pulled his 25-year-old starter.
Throwing 47 pitches in his 1.0 inning pitched, Kelly's outing was the shortest by a Bulls starter this season. He gave way to Frank De Los Santos after allowing six hits, two walks, and eight runs, six of them earned. De Los Santos managed a double play grounder and a fly out to finally end the onslaught. Charlotte's eight-run second set a new season-high for runs allowed in an inning.
Every Knights batter recorded a hit in the game except for catcher Bryan Anderson. McDade paced the Charlotte offensive explosion with a 3-for-5 effort, homering, driving in three and scoring twice.
Durham catcher Craig Albernaz, two days removed from hitting a Grand Slam in his return from the disabled list, entered the game as a reliever in the ninth. He worked a scoreless frame, allowing only a bases empty double to McDade.
The Bulls and Knights continue their weekend series on Saturday at 7:05pm. Durham's RHP Matt Buschmann (5-1, 3.21) will oppose Charlotte's RHP Nick McCully (2-1, 7.88).
Bulls game story brought to you by Strayer University, Bringing Home the Bulls in September.