The Durham Bulls retired Chipper Jones' number 10 in front of 10,577 fans at the DBAP on Tuesday night, and then beat the Charlotte Knights 5-4 to clinch at least a tie for the IL South division title.
Jones, who played in 70 games for the Bulls in 1992 before embarking on a 19-year Hall of Fame career with the Atlanta Braves, returned to Durham for the first time since getting promoted to Double-A 21 years ago. He became the fourth Bull to have his jersey retired, joining Crash Davis' 8, Joe Morgan's 18, and Bill Evers' 20.
The switch-hitting legend was presented a piece of the original Snorting Bull from the DBAP, bearing the word "BULL" from the "Hit Bull, Win Steak" portion of the sign, in the pregame ceremony. He is now the only person to own a piece of the sign, which is one of the most iconic images in all of Minor League sports.
The Bulls then defeated the Knights to reduce their magic number to 1, meaning the best Norfolk can do is tie them for the IL South title. Durham can clinch its sixth title in seven years with a win or Norfolk loss on Wednesday.
Vince Belnome continued to shake off a late-season slump, going 3-for-5 for his second straight multi-hit game. He hit his 32nd double of the season and drove in his 64th run, both among IL leaders.
Kevin Kiermaier tripled in a run in the second and tripled and scored in the fourth, becoming the first Bull to hit two triples in a game since Elliot Johnson on May 22, 2008. In just 26 games with the Bulls, Kiermaier has 5 triples, which ranks seventh in the IL. Tim Beckham added an RBI triple and later scored. It was his seventh three-bagger of the season, fifth most by a Bull since the team moved to Triple-A.
Steve Geltz (W, 5-3, 2.86) picked up the win in relief. Kirby Yates pitched the ninth for his 18th save of the year.
The two-game series concludes Wednesday at 7:05pm at the DBAP. RHP Merrill Kelly (7-3, 3.12) starts for the Bulls against LHP Charlie Leesman (3-2, 3.66).
Bulls game story brought to you by Strayer University, Bringing Home the Bulls in September.