Bulls set up Governors' Cup rematch

Ruggiano collects three hits, two RBIs in semifinal clincher

Justin Ruggiano leads the International League with a .450 playoff batting average. (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images)

By Daren Smith / MLB.com | September 13, 2009 4:37 PM

The Durham Bulls are going to get another crack at the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

Justin Ruggiano had three hits and drove in two runs Sunday as Durham defeated the Louisville Bats, 5-3, in the decisive fifth game of their International League semifinal series.

The Bulls will be making their third straight trip to the Governors' Cup Finals, where they were crushed by Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 20-2, in the fourth and final game of the best-of-5 series.

"It's not a bitter rivalry," Ruggiano said. "It's not like we have the same team as last year or the year before. It's a different group of guys."

Ruggiano was up with the Tampa Bay Rays last September and did not play in the IL Finals. But he batted .367 with four homers and seven RBIs in eight playoff games in 2007 and is hitting .450 with four RBIs in five games in this postseason.

"The postseason is pretty relaxed around here," Ruggiano said. "We don't press too much. Nothing feels like a must-win [situation]."

Sunday's contest was, after Louisville posted a 10-7 victory in Game 4.

The Bulls went with Paul Phillips, who made just two International League appearances after he was promoted from Double-A Montgomery. The 25-year-old right-hander responded, limiting the Bats to two runs on four hits while striking out six over five innings.

"We haven't seen much of him, but he throws pretty hard and did a great job," Ruggiano said. "He threw strikes, which is a big deal for us. It's nice to have someone up there on the mound, around the zone. It's all you could ask for."

After spotting Louisville a 1-0 lead, Durham tied it in the third on an RBI single by Major League veteran Henry Mateo. Ruggiano figured in the rest of the Bulls scoring, singling in Sean Rodriguez to make it 2-1 in the fourth, then singling again and coming home in a two-run sixth. He also doubled in an insurance run in the seventh.

"It was just one of those days. I wasn't doing anything special," Ruggiano said. "I just happened to be in the right place at the right time."

Daniel Dorn hit a solo homer for the Bats, who were trying to reach the championship series for the first time since 2001.

Daren Smith is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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