DURHAM, N.C. - The Durham Bulls scored seven runs in the second inning on Friday night, but they had to hold off a late power surge from the Indianapolis Indians to win the series opener, 9-5. The setback dropped the Tribe to 1-3 on the six-game road trip.
The Indianapolis (57-59) offense went down quietly in its first two chances, but Durham (66-51) vaulted to a 7-0 advantage in the bottom of the second. The inning began with four straight singles, then a bases-loaded walk to Mac James. With two runs already in, Emilio Bonifacio singled home two more. The scoring was capped when Kean Wong launched a three-run homer to center field.
Bulls pitching had retired the first nine Tribe batters, but Cole Tucker led off the fourth with a double to right field. Ke'Bryan Hayes then belted a two-run home run to right field. It was Hayes' eighth homer of the campaign, and it trimmed Durham's lead to 7-2.
Indy inched closer in the fifth. Hunter Owen was hit by a pitch, moved to third on a double by JB Shuck, then scored on a groundout by Christian Kelley.
With the Indians on the comeback trail, Durham scored a pair of insurance runs in the seventh. Wong started the rally with a walk and then scored on Nate Lowe's double. Later in the inning, Rocky Gale singled home Lowe to complete his four-hit night.
A pair of home runs brought the Tribe closer in the ninth, but they were not enough to erase the deficit. Trayvon Robinson hit his sixth long ball of the year to right field, and Owen later clubbed his fourth since joining Indy. Despite the late burst, the rally was halted, and Durham held on.
Indy and Durham will tangle in game two of the series on Saturday evening, first pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. Alex McRae (6-6, 4.97) is scheduled to take the hill for Indy. The Indians are on the longest remaining road trip of the season but return to Victory Field on Tuesday, August 13.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.