DURHAM, NC (September 6, 2019) - One decisive inning was all it took for the Durham Bulls, as a pair of two-out, two-run homers in the bottom of the second inning gave the Bulls a 4-0 lead en route to a 4-2 victory and a 2-0 series lead as the I.L. Semifinals flips to PNC Field beginning Saturday night.
Michael King got the start for the RailRiders and posted a scoreless first inning before baserunners piled up in the second inning. Then with a runner aboard, Nathan Lukes clobbered a two-run homer to give the Bulls a 2-0 lead. Two batters later, I.L. Postseason All-Star Jake Cronenworth smacked a two-run homer of his own and the Bulls led 4-0.
Josh Fleming was dominant in his start for Durham. He allowed just two hits over the first seven frames before hitting a speed bump in the eighth. The RailRiders collected three hits in the inning, but missed out on an opportunity to bring the tying run to the plate in the eighth inning with a pair of runners caught between bases to end the frame instead of having the bases loaded.
Trailing 4-0 entering the top of the ninth inning, Kyle Higashioka smashed a solo home run to centerfield on the newly-inserted Sam McWilliams to breathe some life into the RailRiders offense. Following that, Erik Kratz walked and then there was a groundout at which point McWilliams was lifted from the game. Zack Zehner drilled a line-drive single to centerfield to plate Kratz and make it 4-2. Francisco Arcia pinch-hit and slapped a single through the left side of the infield brigning the go-ahead run to the plate, but a groundout ended the game and the RailRiders trail 2-0 in the best-of-five series.
The RailRiders and Durham Bulls both pile on their respective buses and drive through the night back north to Moosic, Pa. to resume the series Saturday night at PNC Field. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning at 6:05 p.m. on the RailRiders Radio Network with Adam Marco and Adam Giardino with RHP Nick Nelson (1-1, 4.71) taking the ball against MLB rehabber LHP Blake Snell who won the 2018 American League Cy Young Award. For tickets and more information for games 3-5 of the International League Semifinals at PNC Field, call (570) 969-BALL or slide to www.swbrailriders.com/tickets.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.