Kiermaier does not knuckle under

Bulls center fielder delivers go-ahead hit, evens IL Finals

Two of Kevin Kiermaier's three postseason hits have gone for extra bases. (Kevin Pataky/

By Bob Sutton / Special to | September 11, 2013 7:36 PM ET

DURHAM, N.C. -- Durham Bulls center fielder Kevin Kiermaier was fooled only so often by Steven Wright's knuckleball on Wednesday night.

So Kiermaier stopped thinking about it and just hit it.

His seventh-inning double off the wall in left-center field drove in the tie-breaking run as the Bulls evened the Governors' Cup Finals at one win apiece by defeating the Pawtucket Red Sox, 2-1, at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

"My previous three at-bats, I think I was thinking too much," Kiermaier said. "That last at-bat, I'm not sure what I was thinking. That's probably why I hit it so well. I just swung and I didn't know what was going to happen."

Kiermaier, who tore up the Southern League for Double-A Montgomery before a late-July promotion to Durham, was bummed after getting thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple. But the Bulls were ecstatic to get the lead and send Wright to the clubhouse.

A night after another sluggish offensive performance by the Bulls, Kiermaier moved to the leadoff spot with manager Charlie Montoyo going with a hunch and wanting more speed at the top of the order against Wright. Kiermaier grounded out three times before his clutch hit.

"I just couldn't barrel anything up," Kiermaier said. "People were frustrated, the whole dugout ... I was happy with the hit, but I was pretty upset with myself with the baserunning."

Kiermaier had 12 extra-base hits in August and has been one of Durham's key contributors in recent weeks, both at the plate and in the field.

Wright's string of innings without yielding an earned run stretched to 29. In fact, the last player to score an earned run against him was rehabbing Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter on Aug. 22.

But Pawtucket managed only four singles off three Bulls pitchers.

"It's just frustrating to be streaky with the bats this year," Red Sox first baseman Mark Hamilton said. "Hopefully, that streakiness turns around and we get hot."

Reliever C.J. Riefenhauser (1-0) threw two perfect innings for the win in what Montoyo called his best outing since joining the team.

"Everything felt good," Riefenhauser said. "Sometimes you feel good one day, not the next. I was happy the way it ended [in the last home game]."

Durham starter J.D. Martin, the International League Pitcher of the Year, gave up a run on four hits over six innings.

"He was awesome again," Montoyo said. "He had no room for error at all."

The first two Bulls reached in the sixth, but Brandon Guyer fouled off two bunt attempts before grounding into a double play. Two pitches later, Jason Bourgeois scored on a passed ball to forge a 1-1 tie.

It became Durham's seventh one-run game in its last eight outings.

The teams take Thursday off before the best-of-5 series resumes in Pawtucket. The PawSox were set for a flight on Thursday morning, while the Bulls departed via bus shortly after Game 2.

"It's going to be a great bus ride," Montoyo said.

Bob Sutton is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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