by Mike Potter
DURHAM BULLS ATHLETIC PARK It’s the finale of the Bulls’ homestand as well as their four-game set with the Syracuse Chiefs, who came in as the hottest team in the International League.
The Bulls will be looking for a split on the heels of a 14-3 debacle on Thursday night.
Matt Buschmann (0-0, 3.38) will make his first Triple-A start for the Bulls while Zach Duke (9-3, 3.69) goes for Syracuse.
The Bulls keep it close until Syracuse’s four-run ninth, falling 11-7.
Leadoff man Corey Brown gets the Chiefs started in the first by launching a 1-0 pitch into the right-field seats.
But the Bulls score twice in the bottom of the frame. Rich Thompson leads off with a single to center and scores on Tim Beckham’s double. Jesus Feliciano singles, followed by Chris Gimenez’ RBI grounder to short.
Durham makes it 3-1 in the third, as Beckham leads off by launching a 2-1 offering into the right-field stands.
Syracuse cuts the lead to one in the fourth as Jarrett Hoffpauir hits a two-out double to left and scores on Seth Bynum’s single.
But the Bulls retaliate in the bottom of the frame as Shawn O’Malley leads off with a double and scores on Thompson’s one-out single.
The Chiefs tie it with two in the fifth, the runs scoring on Carlos Rivero’s one-out single and Hoffpauir’s sacrifice fly to center.
Syracuse then takes the lead in the seventh off Bryan Augenstein when Xavier Paul clobbers a two-run homer to center on a two-out, 1-1 pitch.
But the Bulls respond in the bottom of the frame. Gimenez deposits a one-out first pitch into the right-field stands to run Duke and bring on Atahualpa Severino, and then Vogt gives Duke the no-decision by launching a 3-2 offering off the Diamond View building behind the right-field stands.
Syracuse goes ahead again in the eighth as Hoffpauir leads off with a single and scores on Brown’s one-out single.
And the Chiefs tack on four runs on five hits and an error off in the ninth to put it away.
Beckham, just a week back from his 50-game suspension for a positive drug test, finishes with the homer, a double and a single.
Paul homers and doubles for Syracuse, while Brown adds a homer and a single.
Buschmann goes five innings and allows four runs on eight hits with four strikeouts against a pair of walks.
They said it …
Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo: “We battled back, but we couldn’t hold them. That’s a hot team. Buschmann battled and gave us a chance. I think we might have come back and won most nights, but that team is really hot.”
Buschmann: “There were some things I could have done better. I just tried to do what I could to keep the game close. The fifth inning hurt me the most. Maybe if I get the first out there things go a little differently.”
Beckham: “I felt like I was seeing it pretty good. I was able to put the bat on the ball. You can’t ask for too much. I’m just looking to get better in every aspect just like everybody does.”
What does it all mean?
That the Bulls may have lost their momentum and need to get it back.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Bulls: Lost 2.
Syracuse: Won 2.
Syracuse wins 6-2.
Bulls (Alex Torres 2-3, 7.06) at Buffalo (Mark Cohoon 0-0, 17.18), Saturday, 7:05 p.m.