DURHAM, NC - For the second time in three games, it would take extra innings to decide the contest between the Durham Bulls and Louisville Bats. With the game tied at 3 in the top of the 11th, Bats first baseman Neftali Soto hit a solo home run down the right field line that the Bulls could not answer in their final at bat. The 4-3 loss halted Durham's three game win streak.
Both bullpens were masterful in Thursday night's game, trading scoreless innings from the 4th inning until Soto's stalemate breaker off of Cesar Ramos (2-1, 1.69) in the 11th. Early on it looked like it could be a slugfest, as the Bats got on the board early, scoring runs in the first three innings off of Durham starter Chris Archer. Sean Gallagher also allowed three earned runs to start the game. Kanekoa Texeira and Travis Webb combined for 4.2 shutout innings for the Bats. Bats Manager David Bell went to righty Nick Christiani (S, 1) to shut things down on his way to his first save of the year.
Chris Archer struggled early on the mound, but maintained control and settled down. After giving up three runs in his first three innings, the Clayton High School graduate settled down and threw three scoreless innings to finish his day. Alex Torres followed Archer in the seventh, making his first relief appearance since a recent move to the pen. Torres was shaky in his debut out of the bullpen, walking two but getting two outs before Charlie Montoyo went to Ryan Reid to end the inning.
The Bulls climbed back into the game twice. With the team down 2-0 in the bottom of the first, Reid Brignac launched his first home run of the season, a two run shot over the right field wall. The team was down again in the top of the third and once again rallied to tie, this time on a Leslie Anderson RBI ground out.
The Bulls threatened in the bottom of the ninth inning with the score tied at three. Brignac led off the inning with a single off of the first baseman's glove. Jeff Salazar then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance the Brignac to second. After an intentional walk to the newest member of the Bulls, Cole Figueroa, Craig Albernaz struck out. Bell went to the lefty Travis Webb (2-1, 4.97) to face Kyle Hudson and the move worked, as the Bulls leadoff man went down swinging to send the game into extras.
After tossing a perfect tenth, Ramos came out of the dugout to return to the mound. He proceeded by giving up a first pitch home run to Soto. The Bulls would go down quietly in the bottom of the 11th, snapping their three game winning streak.
The Bulls and Bats conclude their four game series at 7:05pm on Friday night at the DBAP. RHP Alex Cobb (0-3, 3.81) will take the hill for the Bulls opposite Louisville's LHP Ron Mahay (1-0, 3.95). Fans will be treated to a Friday Night Fireworks show after the game.