by Mike Potter
Both series continue tonight, with the Bulls at Norfolk in the second of a four-game set and the Mudcats at Birmingham in the second of a five-game series.
Carolina’s home opener is on Wednesday against the Montgomery Biscuits, while the Bulls’ is April 15 against the Tides.
Bulls 5, Norfolk 3
Joe Dillon led the Bulls’ nine-hit attack with a double and a single for two RBI, while Justin Ruggiano doubled and singled and John Jaso knocked in two runs with a single and a sacrifice fly.
Starter Jeremy Hellickson picked up the win, going five innings and allowing two runs — one earned — on four hits with six strikeouts against one walk. Dale Thayer collected the save, his 29th as a Bull.
Chris Tillman took the loss for the Tides, who finished with six hits.
Mudcats 4, Birmingham 2
Sean Henry blasted a two-run homer in the second inning and added an RBI single in the sixth for Carolina.
Matt Klinker was steady through seven innings in his victory, allowing one run on four hits with four strikeouts against a pair of walks. Jordan Smith got the save.
The Mudcats outhit Birmingham 9-5 to pin the loss on Matt Long.
Denis Phipps doubled and singled and knocked in the other run for Carolina, which also got two hits from Sean Danielson.
Durham at Norfolk, 7:15 p.m.
Heath Phillips (L, 8-7, 4.99 at Omaha) vs. Jake Arrieta (R, 5-8, 3.93)
Carolina at Birmingham, 8:05 p.m.
Dallas Buck (R, 2-3, 4.82) vs. Jhonny Nunez (R, 3-0, 2.14).