A night after losing by their most lopsided score of the season, the first-place Durham Bulls rebounded on Saturday night to beat the Charlotte Knights 5-2. Matt Buschmann's stellar effort combined with some timely Charlotte miscues gave the Bulls their fifth win in six home games against the Knights this season.
Buschmann (W, 6-1, 2.95) hurled six innings of shutout baseball, allowing just one hit and three walks while striking out seven. Durham improved to 11-2 in games the Vanderbilt alum has started this season.
He was helped out in the third when Charlotte first baseman Andy Wilkins dropped a pop foul that allowed the Bulls to begin a three-run rally.
After the Bulls loaded the bases with no outs in the second and failed to score, Durham loaded the bases again in the third after Wilkins' error, but it again looked like they might come up empty handed. Tim Beckham struck out and Vince Belnome flew out to shallow center, but Leslie Anderson provided a clutch two-out hit, singling to left to give the Bulls a 2-0 lead. The Bulls added another run in the third when Shelley Duncan deposited a bloop single to right that plated Cole Figueroa.
In the fourth, the Bulls again benefitted by the Knights' sloppy infield play. With runners on first and second, Jesus Flores grounded to third but Tyler Greene airmailed the double play turn, allowing Duncan to score Durham's fourth run.
Buschmann gave way to rehabbing Rays reliever Brandon Gomes in the seventh. After hitting Mike McDade, Gomes served up a homer off the Snorting Bull to Greene, cutting the Bulls lead in half.
Defensive woes continued for Charlotte in the eighth, as a Kevin Kiermaier fly ball dropped between a trio of Knight defenders to allow a fifth unearned run to score for the Bulls. Kirby Yates worked 1.2 scoreless innings to earn his 16th save of the year.
With the victory, the Bulls reduced their magic number to 12 games. Any combination of 12 Durham wins and Norfolk losses will clinch the IL South division title for the Bulls.
The Bulls conclude their nine-game homestand and three-game series with Charlotte on Sunday at 5:05pm. RHP J.D. Martin (14-4, 2.84) will make his second attempt to set the Bulls' Triple-A season record with his 15th win. Martin will be opposed by Charlotte's RHP Zach Stewart (5-13, 5.02).
Bulls game story brought to you by Strayer University, Bringing Home the Bulls in September.