by Mike Potter
DBAP/DURHAM It’s Game 2 of the Durham Bulls’ four-game home set with the Syracuse Chiefs, and once again conditions are going to be hot, hot, hot.
Durham ace Jeremy Hellickson (11-3) is on the hill against Jeff Mandel (4-5). Former Bull Luis Ordaz is playing third for Syracuse tonight.
The Bulls come up with timely hitting all night, coasting to a 5-1 victory.
Durham takes the lead in the second when Dan Johnson leads off by launching a 2-1 pitch over the Blue Monster wall in left for his 28th homer of the season.
The score goes to 2-0 in the third, as Elliot Johnson hits a one-out single to right and scores on Justin Ruggiano’s double to left center.
Durham tacked on another in the fifth. Elliot Johnson leads off with a single to right center, takes third on Ruggiano’s double off the Blue Monster, and then after Dan Johnson draws an intentional pass Chris Richard chips in a sacrifice fly to center.
Syracuse gets on the board in the sixth as Boomer Whiting walks, takes second on Justin Maxwell’s single to right, third on Jason Botts’ grounder to first and home on a straight steal.
But the Bulls stretch it to 5-1 in the eighth off Dan Leatherman. J.J. Furmaniak leads off with a single to left, then scores on a double to left from Jose Lobaton. Furmaniak is originally called out at the plate before the call is reversed when the umpiring crew determines catcher Jaime Burke bobbled the ball. Fernando Perez advances the runner on a sacrifice bunt before Elliot Johnson’s two-out RBI single to right.
Hellickson gets the win, going 5 2/3 innings and allowing the run on three hits with nine strikeouts against four walks. Ruggiano has a pair of doubles and a single for an RBI, while Elliot Johnson has three hits with an RBI to improve his average to .301 and scores three runs.
Mandel takes the loss. Ordaz and Botts lead the Chiefs with a double apiece.
Sunday’s game will be played at 7:05 p.m. instead of its previously scheduled 5:05 start, the Bulls citing predictions of extreme heat as the reason.
They said it …
Bulls skipper Charlie Montoyo: “When I looked at the umpires they were looking at it they were looking at it. It wasn’t an easy call. But I saw the bobble and I figure they saw it. I’ve never had one changed in our favor like that. That was great to see Hellickson pitch that way. It was his best outing in a while. And I don’t want to forget about (relievers) Mike Ekstrom and R.J. Swindle. They did a great job against a good team.”
Elliot Johnson: “I don’t think we’ve been getting timely hits as a team, especially with less than two outs, and we did tonight. If we get them with two outs it’s fine. But we still need to get them with two outs. I’m trying not to do too much. All my hits were ground balls hit hard through the infield. That’s something that’s been preached to me since I started playing pro ball in 2002.”
Hellickson: “We won. I was a lot better than last time. I still had trouble throwing strikes, but I got out of a couple jams. I wanted to get through six since I was that close, but that was all I had. The guys in the pen came on and did a great job.”
What does it all mean?
That the Bulls have a 10-game lead with 44 to go.
Stars of the game
1. E. Johnson.
Play of the game
Furmaniak’s run in the eighth and the changed call that made it happen.
Bulls lead 5-1.
Durham: Won 3.
Syracuse: Lost 4.
Syracuse: P Dan Leatherman promoted from Potomac.
Syracuse at Bulls, Sunday, 7:05 p.m.
Erik Arnesen (R, 3-5, 4.35) vs. Richard De Los Santos (R, 8-5, 4.09)