Monday, April 19, 2010

Durham Bulls 10, Norfolk Tides 1

[Via email from Matt DeMargel, the Durham Bulls Director of Media Relations.]

Durham, NC – The Bulls stayed hot as they put ten runs on the Tides for the second time in the series, earning a 10-1 victory and winning three out of four from Norfolk in the series. Jeremy Hellickson won his third straight game to open the season, while Justin Ruggiano led a potent offensive attack by notching his fifth consecutive multi-hit game.

Hellickson’s only mark occurred in the first inning, when Rhyne Hughes connected on a deep blast over the right field wall to put the Tides on top 1-0. Hughes, a former Bull, notched the only two hits against Hellickson over the first 4.1 innings of work.

The Bulls answered with four runs of their own in the first inning, chasing Norfolk right-hander Chris Tillman after just one inning of work. Desmond Jennings doubled to lead off the inning, his first at bat of the season after beginning the season on the disabled list with a wrist injury. After the double, the Bulls took advantage of extra-bases allowed by the Tides, as Tillman tossed two wild pitches, hit a batter and catcher Adam Donachie let a ball scoot by for a passed ball. Hank Blalock, Joe Dillon and Elliot Johnson all had RBIs for the Bulls in the inning, as they chased the Norfolk starter before the 2nd inning for the second time in the series.

Hellickson stayed in control from there, going on to pitch 7.2 innings allowing one run on four hits and a walk while striking out eight. It was his third victory of the season, and ninth in twelve career regular season starts with the Bulls dating back to last season. The 23-year-old righty threw 95 pitches, 65 for strikes in his second longest outing at the Triple-A level.

The Bulls added a single run in the fourth against Tides left-hander Chris George who came on in place of Tillman. Jennings walked to start the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Fernando Perez, coming around to score on an RBI-double by Justin Ruggiano.

Ruggiano came calling again in the sixth inning, coming through with another two-run single as the Bulls put up three runs in the inning against Norfolk righty Andy Mitchell. They added two more in the seventh, as Alvin Colina added his second RBI-double of the game and Fernando Perez brought him home with an RBI-single of his own off Mitchell to finish the scoring for the Bulls.

Coming into this hitting just .217 as a team, the Bulls now rank second in the International League with a .277 average after knocking Norfolk around to the tune of 55 hits over their four-game set. Their win improves their record to 8-3 and keeps them atop the South division with an early 1.5 games over Charlotte.

The Bulls will travel to Charlotte for a quick two-game set with the Knights beginning tomorrow night. LHP Heath Phillips (0-0 2.92) takes the ball for the Bulls looking to earn his first win of the season, matched up against RHP Carlos Torres (1-1 3.27) for Charlotte. Game time is set for 7:15 p.m. at Knights Stadium in Charlotte, SC.

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