Sands lifts Bulls to win in front of friends, family
Posted April 3
Updated April 4
Durham, N.C. — Playing in front of two dozen friends and family members Thursday, Clayton native Jerry Sands went 3-for-3 with a home run in his Bulls debut as Durham rallied to beat Gwinnett, 7-6.
Sands hit a game-tying home run, just clearing the wall in right, in the bottom of the fifth inning as part of a back-to-back with Wilson Betemit as the Bulls rallied from an early 6-2 hole.
“I just got my barrel to it and it went,” Sands said. “It’s always good to start off the year strong.”
Betemit’s mammoth home run in the fifth cleared the seating in right field, landing on the concourse and bringing a rise out of the 9,483 people that showed up at Durham Bulls Athletic Park on opening night.
The Bulls hit three home runs on the night, something that head coach Charlie Montoyo said not to expect for the year.
Bulls centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier hit a two-run home run in the second inning after Gwinnett posted a three-spot in the first. Kiermaier finished the night 1-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored.
“You just want to take advantage of your opportunities,” Kiermaier said. “It was a relief, but it was a good way to start the season.”
Cole Figueroa, hitting out of the two-hole, was the beneficiary of a productive Durham lineup as he went 2-for-3 with a walk and scored two runs.
Durham’s bullpen, figured to be a strong spot this season, went 6.1 innings of shutout ball in replace of starter Nathan Karns. Brad Boxberger finished the seventh and got the win with 1.2 innings of work.
Kirby Yates threw a perfect ninth for the save.
“The key was (Merrill) Kelly,” Montoyo said of his bullpen. Kelly threw three innings in immediate relief of Karns to stop the Braves scoring for the night.
Gwinnett scored three runs in the first and three more in the third to build a 6-2 advantage.
The Bulls and Gwinnett will meet again Friday at DBAP at 7:05 (620 The Buzz).