[Game recap provided by Matt DeMargel of the Durham Bulls.]
Durham, NC - The Bulls opened up an 11-game home swing by holding on for a 2-1 victory against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs on Friday night in front of 10,410 fans at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The Bulls used a two-run first inning to take the lead and held on allowing only four hits as Jeremy Hellickson picked up his lead leading 10th win of the season.
Durham struck quickly against IronPigs starter Nate Bump, as Desmond Jennings singled and advanced to third on a perfectly executed hit and run by J.J. Furmaniak to put runners on the corners with nobody out. A single to left by Justin Ruggiano brought home the first run, and a bloop single by Dan Johnson brought home Furmaniak as the Bulls took a 2-0 lead without having a batter retired.
Bump would escape the first without any additional damage, and held the Bulls scoreless over his final six innings of work allowing just two hits in that span. Durham had chances to add to their lead, but had two runners thrown out at the plate to keep them from extending the advantage.
After being named to the XM Radio Futures Game earlier this week, Hellickson did not miss a beat as he stymied the IronPigs attack through 6.0 innings of work. The only Lehigh Valley run came in the fifth inning, as a ground ball skipped off Joe Dillon’s glove for an error, allowing Paul Hoover to come across and cut the lead to one.
The Bulls right-hander allowed four hits, walked one and struck out seven on the night, lowering his ERA to 2.19 for the season which is good enough for third best in the International League.
R.J. Swindle came on in the seventh inning and worked 2.0 perfect innings while striking out two. Winston Abreu struck out two of the three batters he faced in a perfect ninth inning to earn his team-leading seventh save. After the run scored in the fifth, the trio of Bulls pitchers retired the final 14 batters in a row to end the game.
The victory improves the Bulls to 44-30 on the season, while the loss drops Lehigh Valley to 29-45. The two teams continue their series tomorrow as RHP Brian Baker (5-0 3.15) takes the hill in his second start of the season against LHP Joe Savery (1-7 5.15) for the IronPigs. Game time is set for 7:05 p.m.