INDIANAPOLIS - The Durham Bulls scored four unanswered runs to erase a 3-0 deficit en route to a 4-3 win over the Indianapolis Indians on Saturday night at Victory Field. Indianapolis native Justin O'Conner provided the decisive blow with a two-out, two-run single in the eighth inning to lift the Bulls into the Governors' Cup Championship Series.
Down 3-0, Durham (3-1) finally broke through against Tribe starter Drew Hutchison in the sixth. After leaving six runners on base through the first five frames, the Bulls scored their first run on a double play with the bases juiced before Kean Wong reached on a two-out single to plate another.
The Bulls completed their comeback in the eighth, despite recording just one hit in the inning. Jack Leathersich (0-1) issued a one-out walk and then beaned Shane Peterson. The southpaw handed over to Johnny Barbato who retired the first man he faced on a foul out to right. In the following at-bat, Wong took a 3-2 fastball just off the plate to load the bases ahead of O'Conner's two-RBI single to center.
Facing Bulls starter Brent Honeywell for a fourth time this season, Indianapolis (1-3) threatened early and often but ran themselves into outs. A single in the first was nullified on a caught stealing, and Danny Ortiz's leadoff single in the second eventually led to a pickoff at first.
The Tribe grabbed the lead in the fourth after Erich Weiss opened the inning with his first of two doubles in the game. Jacob Stallings brought Weiss home when he lined the eighth pitch of his at-bat down the right-field line for a two-out single.
Indy kept the pressure on Honeywell in its next trip to the plate. Eric Wood doubled to begin the fifth and took third on a Gift Ngoepe bunt single. One out later, Weiss cleared the bases with a double to deep right.
Following O'Conner's go-ahead knock in the eighth, Durham utilized three relievers - Hunter Wood, Adam Kolarek and Diego Castillo - to seal Indy's fate.
Ortiz opened the ninth with a soft single into center off Castillo and took second on a Stallings sacrifice bunt, but the Bulls' closer retired Edwin Espinal on a strikeout and Anderson Feliz on a game-ending groundout to short.
Wood (1-0) earned the win for Durham with a scoreless inning in relief. Hutchison took a no-decision for the Tribe after yielding two runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Durham will face the winner of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Lehigh Valley, beginning with Game 1 on Tuesday, Sept. 12 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Indianapolis will open its 2018 campaign against the Columbus Clippers at Victory Field on Friday, April 6. First pitch is set for 7:15 p.m. Single-game tickets for the 2018 season will tentatively go on sale Thursday, March 1.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.