[Via email from the Durham Bulls' broadcaster Neil Solondz.]
Jeremy Hellickson gave Durham seven shutout innings on Friday night, as the Bulls reduced their magic number one to clinch the South Division title, downing Charlotte 4-1.
Hellickson (6-1) allowed a two-out double in the first inning to Stefan Gartrell, but then retired 16 straight. He allowed two singles in the seventh, but got Justin Knoedler to fly to right to end the threat. Hellickson, who walked none and struck out nine, has pitched 15 scoreless innings in his last two starts.
Durham (81-60), which swept a three-game series from Charlotte, got all it would need in the fourth against Wes Whisler (10-12). Joe Dillon walked, and moved to third on Chris Richard's second hit of the night. Dillon came home on a fielder's choice groundout by Sean Rodriguez. Justin Ruggiano and Ray Olmedo followed with run-scoring hits for a 3-0 advantage. Durham added a run on an RBI Rodriguez double in the next inning for a 4-0 lead.
Heath Rollins allowed a solo homer in the eighth. Winston Abreu (15 saves) got the last out in the eighth, and then allowed a hit and a walk to start the ninth. However, he got veteran Wilson Betemit to bounce into a 3-6-3 double play, and struck out Knoedler to end the game.
Durham, which already has clinched a playoff spot, will start the final regular season series of the season at home against Charlotte on Saturday. Rayner Oliveros starts against lefty Chris Waters, as the Bulls look to clinch a third straight division title. Coverage on 99.9 the Fan's HD2 begins at 6:45, with first pitch at 7:05.