ALLENTOWN, PA - The IronPigs extend their winning streak to four games by taking game one of a four-game set 4-1 against the reigning Governor's Cup Champion Durham Bulls, behind a strong performance by RHP Sean O'Sullivan.
RHP Sean O'Sullivan got the start for Manager Dave Brundage and the IronPigs, hurling seven strong innings of one-run baseball for his second straight quality start, and his eleventh this season. O'Sullivan held the Durham Bulls scoreless over the first six innings, scattering three hits over the first six frames. An RBI-double by Vince Belnome with one out in the seventh inning took the shutout away from O'Sullivan, but the nine-year veteran was able to retire the next two batters he faced In order to strand runners on second and third, limiting the Bulls to a one-run inning.
The IronPigs jumped out to an early lead in support of their starting pitcher, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first inning. 2B Nate Spears - who was making his first start in four games - got the game started with a lead-off double, and moved to third on a productive groundout by SS Freddy Galvis. After 1B Russ Canzler drew a two-out walk, OF Leandro Castro gave the Pigs a 1-0 lead by scoring Spears from third on an infield-single, with a throwing error allowing Canzler to move to third and Castro to second for OF Clete Thomas. Thomas would then reach on another infield-single, scoring Canzler, but the inning would end with Castro being thrown out at the plate attempting to score from second. Friday's game marks the seventh time in the last nine games that the IronPigs have scored at least one first-inning run.
Lehigh Valley would add to their lead by scoring one run in both the second and third innings. OF Cam Perkins would start the second inning with a lead-off single, and later score on a bunt-single by Spears. In the third inning, Castro would reach base on a fielding error before being plated by a Thomas double to give the Pigs a 4-0 advantage. The IronPigs may have scored again in the inning, but a nice throw by Bulls rightfielder Jeremy Moore cut-down Thomas's attempt to score on Perkins' second single of the game.
The Lehigh Valley offensive output on Saturday was led by the outfield, with seven of the team's eleven hits coming from its three outfielders. Tyler Henson led the team in hits with his 3-3 performance, while Thomas accounted for half of the team's run total with two RBI.
Pitching Coach Ray Burris got another solid performance from the Lehigh Valley bullpen, as RHP Tyler Knigge relieved O'Sullivan to begin the eighth inning, and retired all three batters he faced. RHP Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez then made his Triple-A debut after being called up from Reading on Friday, allowing one hit and striking out one en route to his first save in his first game as an IronPig.
The IronPigs and Bulls will continue their four-game series on Sunday; the first 5:35 p.m. start of the season at Coca-Cola Park. Sunday will see RHP Brad Lincoln take on RHP Nathan Karns, and will also feature a Youth Replica Jersey Giveaway for the first 2,000 children 17 and younger, presented by Capital BlueCross.