PAWTUCKET, RI - The Durham Bulls tied the game in the top of the ninth inning and went on to score the winning run in the 11th inning for a 4-3 victory over the Pawtucket Red Sox in Game Two of the Governors' Cup Final Wednesday night at McCoy Stadium, tying the Best-of-Five series at one game apiece.
Trailing 3-2 in the top of the ninth, Bulls first baseman Vince Belnome blasted a 2-2 breaking ball over the fence in right-center field for a solo home run, tying the game at 3-3. Then in the 11th Belnome worked a leadoff walk and advanced to second base on a walk to Ali Solis. Designated hitter Mike Fontenot followed with an RBI single to right field to score Belnome and put the defending champions on top 4-3.
In the bottom of the 11th southpaw Adam Liberatore (1-0) worked around a two-out walk for a scoreless inning, aided by a sliding catch in right field by Jeremy Moore to lead off the frame. The left-hander earned the victory by tossing 1 2/3 shutout frames, while working out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the 10th.
The home side jumped on the board in the first frame when Ryan Lavarnway grounded out with the bases loaded, scoring Rusney Castillo from third base. In the second the Red Sox struck again, this time when Corey Brown launched a two-run homer over the right field wall for a 3-0 lead.
Durham bounced back in the top of the third though. Justin Christian singled with one out, and later in the frame Mikie Mahtook crushed a two-run dinger to left-center field to cut the deficit to one.
After Bulls starter Alex Colome lasted just 1 1/3 innings, the Durham bullpen took over. Jake Thompson (2.2), Merrill Kelly (2.0), C.J. Riefenhauser (1.1), Josh Lueke (2.0) and Liberatore (1.2) combined to post 9 2/3 scoreless innings of relief, allowing just six hits and striking out eight. After five shutout innings in Game One, the Durham bullpen has now posted 14 2/3 shutout innings in the Governors' Cup Final, and has allowed just one run over its last 25 2/3 frames in the 2014 postseason.
John Ely (0-1) suffered the loss for Pawtucket, allowing one on three walks in 1 1/3 frames.
The series shifts to Durham Bulls Athletic Park Thursday, as the Bulls send RHP Matt Andriese (11-8, 3.77; 1-0, 3.60) to the mound opposite LHP Henry Owens (3-1, 4.03; 0-0, 11.25) for the PawSox. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.