[Via email from the Durham Bulls Director of Media Relations Matt DeMargel.]
Double-digit strikeouts from Durham starter Jeremy Hellickson and a base-clearing double from John Jaso helped put the Bulls on top of Charlotte, 8-2 on Thursday night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
With the bases loaded, one out in the third, and the score tied 2-2, Jaso took Charlotte pitcher Jack Egbert (6-9) deep to the wall in left-center for a three-run double to put the Bulls ahead 5-2. Jaso finished the day 2-for-3 with a walk and a season-high four RBI.
Hellickson (4-1) made sure Durham would maintain that lead as he tossed five innings allowing two runs, one unearned, on three hits, two walks, and a hit-by-pitch while striking out a season-high 10 batters to earn the win.
He was followed up by Joe Bateman and Winston Abreu who combined to keep the Knights hitless the rest of the way. Charlotte ended the day with three hits and one earned run while striking out a total of 17 times – tying a Bulls pitching staff season-high.
The Bulls would continue to add on their lead with a Jon Weber RBI-groundout in the fourth and a Reid Brignac two-run single in the fifth to make the score 8-2. Weber tacked on the final Durham tallies in the eighth with a two-run home run off Derek Rodriguez. Durham batters finished the day with 12 hits while drawing a season-high nine base-on-balls.
With Gwinnett winning 11-2 over Norfolk, the Bulls still remain three games behind the Braves for first place in the International League South Division. They continue to lead the wild card by one and a half games over Syracuse, who won 3-0 over Buffalo. Durham does take a 2-1 lead over Charlotte in their current four game series.
The Bulls will look to clinch the series Friday as righty Jeff Bennett (0-0), who was optioned to Durham last Tuesday, will take the mound in his first appearance for the Bulls. He will face off against Charlotte right-hander Lucas Harrell (4-1) with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.