[Via email from the Durham Bulls' broadcaster Neil Solondz.]
Winston Abreu struck out Chris Valaika with the tying and winning runs aboard, as Durham took a 2-1 lead in its best-of-five playoff series with Louisville, edging the Bats 4-3 on Friday night.
Abreu struck out the first two batters on six pitches, and was ahead 0-2 on the next two batters. However, the four and five hitters Todd Frazier and Juan Francisco both had infield hits to keep the game alive for Valaika. Abreu fanned Valaika on a 2-2 slider to finish the game.
Durham had taken a 4-1 lead, scoring all of its runs in the fourth. Joe Dillon started the frame with a single to left off Sam LeCure (0-1). The next two hitters, Matt Joyce and Sean Rodriguez, walked to load the bases. Justin Ruggiano looped a ball into right that Lew Ford couldn't hold onto that was ruled an RBI single that tied the game at one. Elliot Johnson followed with a solid RBI single to right for a 2-1 advantage. Michel Hernandez grounded into a double play but a run scored, and Henry Mateo followed with an RBI single to right-center for the last of four runs.
Jason Cromer (1-0) allowed his second solo homer in the sixth, this one to Yonder Alonso to cut the Bulls lead to 4-2.
Louisville rallied in the seventh against Joe Bateman, as a walk and a hit started the inning. The next two batters struck out, but two infield hits chased Bateman, and made it a 4-3 game. Julio DePaula then got Chris Valaika to ground out to third to end the inning. DePaula also worked around a leadoff single in the eighth, leaving the tying run at third.
Durham had eight hits, three by Justin Ruggiano. Meanwhile the Bulls held Louisville to just 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
The Bulls will look to close out the series on Saturday in a 6:05 start against the Bats. Durham will face lefty Tom Cochran. Rayner Oliveros is expected to start for Durham. Coverage on 99.9 the Fan begins at 5:45.