Bulls

Durham Bulls win 2017 Triple-A National Championship

Posted September 19
Updated September 20

— The Durham Bulls defeated the Memphis Redbirds 5-3 Tuesday night at PNC Field, capturing the Triple-A National Championship title for the second time in franchise history.

One big hit was enough for the Bulls and their bullpen, as Kean Wong erased a two-run deficit with a two-out grand slam to right-center field in the bottom of the fourth inning. The blast put the Bulls in front for good at 5-3, as the Durham pen tossed five scoreless innings to finish off the win.

The Triple-A National Championship Game victory was the organization’s second in its 20-year Triple-A history, joining the 2009 crown that also saw Durham defeat Memphis 5-4 in 11 innings from Oklahoma City. The victory capped a historic season for the Bulls, which included an 86-56 regular season record, the team’s 13th International League South Division title, and the club’s fifth Governors’ Cup title.

Memphis was the first team to strike on the night, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning on a one-out double off the bat of Jacob Wilson. The Bulls cut the deficit to 2-1 in the third inning, as a Jake Bauers’ RBI groundout plated Johnny Field to pull Durham to within a run.

The Redbirds extended their advantage to two runs in the top of the fourth, with an RBI, sacrifice fly by Jeremy Martinez putting the road team ahead 3-1. The Bulls came storming back in the bottom of the inning however, as Shane Peterson was hit by a pitch, Justin Williams singled, and Field walked to load the bases with two outs. Wong then delivered the big hit of the game, as the Bulls’ second baseman drilled a 3-1 pitch over the wall in right-center field for a grand slam to put Durham ahead 5-3.

The two-run advantage proved to be enough for the Bulls’ pitching staff, as Xavier Cedeno, Brent Honeywell, and Diego Castillo combined to toss five scoreless frames to close out the game and give Durham the Triple-A National Championship.

Wong finished the game 3-4 with a homer, double, four RBI, and a run scored en route to being named the game’s MVP. Governors’ Cup Finals MVP Jake Bauers kept his hot bat going as well with a 1-4 game including an RBI.

Honeywell (2-0) earned the win with 2.2 scoreless innings of relief, while Castillo (4) recorded the save after closing out the game 1.1 scoreless frames.

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