DURHAM, N.C. - The Pawtucket Red Sox struck for a two-run homer in the top of the 13th inning to defeat the Durham Bulls 4-2 Friday night at the DBAP, forcing a decisive Game Five Saturday night.
Down to their final strike in the top of the ninth, PawSox leadoff hitter Rusney Castillo lined a pitch into center field off the Bulls' 2014 Pitcher of the Year Adam Liberatore, scoring pinch runner Derrik Gibson and tying the contest at 2-2. After the teams traded three scoreless innings, Ivan De Jesus crushed a two-run, two-out dinger over the Blue Monster in the top of the 13th frame to propel the Red Sox in front 4-2. In the bottom of the inning the Bulls brought the winning run to the plate, but Nick Franklin lined out to deep right field to end the contest, stranding a pair of runners.
In the 11th the Bulls had a chance to win it, as Cole Figueroa worked a one-out walk and stole second base with Mikie Mahtook at the dish. Mahtook proceeded to line a single to left field, but Bryce Brentz gunned down Figueroa at home plate, preserving the tie. Jeremy Moore followed with a single to left-center field to advance Mahtook to third, but Tim Beckham popped out to short, ending the threat.
Pawtucket scored in the very first inning on a two-out RBI single to left field from Ryan Lavarnway, scoring De Jesus. The Bulls came back in the fourth though, as Beckham led off with a single and Franklin singled two batters later. Mike Fontenot's single scored Beckham to tie the game, before Luke Maile's double to right field put Durham ahead 2-1.
Jose Valdez (1-0) earned the win for Pawtucket, tossing a scoreless 12th and 13th inning, while right-hander Jake Thompson (0-1) suffered the loss, surrendering two runs on four hits in two innings. Durham starter Mike Montgomery turned in a gritty effort, lasting six innings, walking six and allowing three hits but surrendering just one run, while Pawtucket starter Eduardo Rodriguez, making his Triple-A debut, spun seven innings of two-run baseball as neither starter factored into the decision.
Since manager Charlie Montoyo took over the Bulls prior to the 2007 season, Durham has played three Game Fives, winning two of them. The lone loss came in the 2007 Governors' Cup Final when the squad fell to the Richmond Braves.
A win Saturday would be Durham's fifth Governors' Cup in the past 13 seasons, and third since Montoyo took over. Durham has a chance to clinch its first Governors' Cup championship at home since 2002, and become the first IL team to win the crown on its home field since Richmond did so over the Bulls in 2007.
Game Five pits Durham RHP Merrill Kelly (9-4, 2.76; 1-0, 1.50) against Pawtucket RHP Keith Couch (NR, 8-2, 2.96 in Double-A), who will be making just his second career appearance at the Triple-A level. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at the DBAP.