PAWTUCKET, R.I. - Two outs from going down 2-0 in the best-of-5 Governors' Cup Finals, Durham pushed for extra innings and snatched victory away from Pawtucket, posting as 4-3, 11-inning triumph on Wednesday night at McCoy Stadium.
Down to their final at-bats and trailing by a run, the Bulls again faced PawSox reliever Heath Hembree.
A night after leaving the bases loaded in the ninth, Durham pulled even as Vince Belnome sent a 2-2 pitch over the right-field fence.
"I was just trying to stay short there in that situation," Belnome said. "I put a good swing on a slider, got it out over the plate and hit it well."
Belnome helped manufacture the go-ahead run by drawing a leadoff walk in the 11th. Two batters later, Ali Solis reached on catcher's interference and Mike Fontenot followed by poking an 0-2 pitch from between first and second base for a single that scored Belnome.
"When it comes to the playoffs, you want to get the game over as quick as possible," Belnome said. "Font came up with a big hit there, 0-2, lefty-on-lefty. Just a big hit."
The Bulls should credit their bullpen with keeping them alive after five relievers yieldes six hits and three walks while striking out seven over 9 2/3 scoreless innings.
"The bullpen did a great job," Durham manager Charlie Montoyo said. "The game was on the line in the seventh and the ninth. They had the chance to win the game and we made the big pitch when we had to."
The PawSox got on the board first when Ryan Lavarnway plated Rusney Castillo with a fielder's choice in the opening inning. They struck again in the second when Corey Brown followed a leadoff triple by Ivan De Jesus Jr. with a two-run blast over the right field wall.
The Bulls got to PawSox starter Brian Johnson in the third as Rays No. 11 prospect Mikie Mahtook smacked a two-out two-run homer.
Johnson, the Red Sox's 10th-ranked prospect gave up two runs on four hits and three walks with seven strikeouts over six innings in his Triple-A debut.
Bulls starter Alex Colome, the Rays' No. 5 prospect, didn't fare as well. He lasted 1 1/3 innings and was tagged for three runs on three hits and three walks. He struck out two and threw 54 pitches.
The series is playing out much like last year, when Pawtucket won the opener by a run and Durham returned the favor in Game 2 before capturing the Governors' Cup in four games.
"If I have to guess, [the rest of the games] are all going to be like this," Montoyo said. "If I'm a fan of baseball, I'd come to [Durham Bulls Athletic Park] and watch the games."
Game 3 is Thursday in Durham, where Pawtucket sends Red Sox No. 2 prospect Henry Owens against Matt Andriese.
Craig Forde is a contributor to MiLB.com.