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Bulls' Betemit helps International League to 7-3 win over PCL in Triple-A All Star Game

Posted July 16
Updated July 17

— Playing in front of his home crowd, Durham Bulls’ Wilson Betemit drove in the first two runs of the Triple-A All Star Game Wednesday and the International League never looked back in a 7-3 win over the Pacific Coast League.

Betemit’s two-out, first-inning single off the glove of Reno first baseman Mike Jacobs allowed Jose Pirela (Scranton/Wilkes Barre) and Jesus Aguilar (Columbus) to come around to score as the IL never trailed in the game. Syracuse catcher Jhonatan Solano stretched the IL lead to 4-0 in the second inning on a two-run home run over the Blue Monster.

"We had a lot of talented guys," said Bulls outfielder Mike Mahtook. "It was great playing in front of the home fans, they made me feel special. I wish I could have got a couple more hits, but it was an exciting three days." 

Mahtook saw hos 0-fer in Monday’s home run derby carry over to the game Wednesday as he struck out, grounded out and flied out twice in an 0-for-4 effort.

After the PCL got a run in the top of sixth on a solo home run by Joc Pederson (Albuquerque), the IL exploded for thee in the bottom half by stringing together four hits. Back-to-back singles from Charlotte’s Josh Phegley and Ivan de Jesus (Norfolk) set the table for Felix Perez (Louisville) who drove an 0-2 pitch into the right field corner for a two-run triple. Steven Souza (Syracuse) followed up two batters later with a single up the middle scoring Perez.

Perez and De Jesus each had multi-hit games on the night as eight different IL players notched at least one.

IL MVP honors went to starter Liam Hendriks, a Perth Austrailia native pitching for Buffalo in the Toronto Blue Jays system. The 6-foot-1 righty impressed the 10,274 fans in attendance at DBAP with four strikeouts over two shutout innings while earning the win.

"I had the same mentality: just get ahead and throw first-pitch strikes," Hendriks said. "This is always a fun place to play at, but it was even more special doing it in an all-star game."

Durham’s Merrill Kelly came in with two outs in the ninth to record the final out.

"They told me before the ninth that barring a double play, I would come in for the last out," Kelly said. "I don't pitch in that situation during the season so it was pretty awesome."

PCL starter Elih Villanueva gave up four runs, two earned, in 1.2 innings and took the loss. The PCL game MVP was former Virginia stand-out Chris Taylor who went 3-for-4 with two doubles. Taylor has experience playing at DBAP as he was part of Virginia's 2011 ACC championship team.

"I love this place," Taylor said. "The best part was playing in front of friends and family. Some of them haven't seen me play since high school."

Pederson scored two runs on the night for the PCL as he crossed the plate in the eighth, coming around on a Ben Paulsen (Colorado Springs) single following a walk in addition to his homer. The PCL got their third run in the ninth on a Jonathan Galvez (El Paso) RBI single.

Bulls left-hander Mike Montgomery threw one inning of shut-out ball as he was the first reliever out of Charlie Montoyo’s bullpen. Montoyo, who has 611 wins in seven-plus seasons with the Bulls and was the manager for the IL Wednesday, also threw out the game’s ceremonial first pitch. 

"It's a little different mindset of let's attack everyone," Montgomery said about coming out of the pen. "I was a little more nervous than usual."

Monday’s derby winner, Allan Dykstra (Las Vegas) brought his championship belt with him onto the field during introductions. The former Wake Forest first baseman went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

Former Mount Olive pitcher Tommy Layne, now in the Red Sox system with Pawtucket, threw one inning of shutout relief with one strikeout.

The Bulls get right back to regular season action Thursday night as they start a series in Gwinnett.

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