Durham's bullish; the Bulls take a 2-0 series lead by shutting out the Stripers 11-0
Preview: Durham Bulls (85-60, 2nd place in the International League East (3.5 GB) vs Gwinnett Stripers (68-75, 6th place in the International League West (12.5 GB)
As the season draws closer to the end, the Durham Bulls (AAA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays) and the Gwinnett Stripers (AAA affiliate of the Atlanta Braves) are looking to close out the season on a positive note. The Bulls have a 1-0 lead in the regular season ending series (including an 8-2 win in the series opener), and for today's game (September 20, 2023) on Education Day, they are looking to get a 2-0 series lead and keep their playoff hopes alive with 5 games left (including today's game). Starting pitcher Anthony Molina (2-2, 4.89 ERA) looks to limit the Stripers' offense, while Ruben Cardenas (.271 BA with 22 HR and 80 RBI's), Tristan Gray (.237 BA with 28 HR and 93 RBI's), and Kameron Misner (.230 BA with 21 HR, 57 RBI's, and 21 SB's) look to lead the team's scoring attack.
The Stripers look to even the series behind starter Alan Rangel (1-0, 2.45 ERA). The offense looks to bounce back from its 2-run output in the series opener, as Joe Dunand (.264 BA with 17 HR and 52 RBI's), Vaughn Grissom (.332 BA with 8 HR and 60 RBI's), and Braden Shewmake (.234 BA with 16 HR, 68 RBI's, and 27 SB's) are prepared to set the tone.
Game highlights as Durham defeats Gwinnett 11-0
Durham would erupt for 4 runs off Gwinnett starter Alan Rangel in the top of the 2nd inning. Tristan Gray's home run to right center field (his 29th of the season) gives the Bulls a 1-0 lead. Kameron Misner's RBI double would make it a 2-0 lead, and additional plays by Evan Edwards' fielder's choice (as the Stripers' Vaughn Grissom's attempt to throw out Misner is unsuccessful) and Francisco Mejia's RBI triple round out the inning.
The Bulls would add 2 runs in the top of the 7th inning, but not without some controversy.
Stripers' pitcher Justice Sheffield makes a sound fielding play and makes a throw to 3rd base to cut off the running, but the umpire rules him safe. The play continues as safely called runner eventually gets caught in a rundown, but his efforts allow Vidal Brujan to advance to 3rd base. Subsequently, Austin Shenton's RBI single and a Tristan Gray sacrifice fly give the Bulls a 6-0 lead.
The offensive barrage by the Bulls continues in the top of the 8th inning. Vidal Brujan's RBI groundout makes it a 7-0 lead and Francisco Mejia's RBI single gives them an 8-0 lead. A bases loaded RBI walk by Ronny Simon followed by Gwinnett's Kodi Whitley throwing a wild pitch makes it a double-digit lead (10-0) for Durham. Vidal Brujan would add another RBI single in the top of the 9th to close out the scoring and complete the 11-0 win.
Offensively, the Bulls are led by Vidal Brujan (2 for 6 with 2 RBI's), Francisco Mejia (4 for 6 with 2 RBI's), and Tristan Gray (1 for 4 with 1 HR and 2 RBI's) in their 13 hit attack. Winning pitcher Anthony Molina (6 IP, allowing 3 hits with 4 strikeouts and a walk) leads the way for the team win and shutout and improves to 3-2 on the season.
The Stripers' Alan Rangel (1-1) takes the loss as he goes 4 innings. He allows 4 runs (all earned) on 5 hits with 2 walks. Braden Shewmake goes 2 for 4 as Gwinnett is held to 5 hits.
Notes: There are 4 games left in the series, including special promotions and more as this series concludes Gwinnett's regular season (September 24, 2023 is the last day of the season). All photos and video are recorded by Andrew Snorton/CCSLLC (click HERE to visit their Instagram). To view the full box score, click HERE.