It’s the second straight season the Bulls have played in the remodeled park, which was their home from 1938-1994 except in the years there was no pro ball at all in Durham. The Atlanta Braves’ Class A Carolina League played here for its final 15 seasons, and that’s the one all but the real old-timers remember.
And of course it was where the iconic baseball film “Bull Durham” was shot.
Both teams will wear vintage uniforms from the 1960s, and there are plenty of pre-game festivities. Minor League President Pat O’Conner is in the house. Former Durham skipper Bill Evers fires a ceremonial first pitch to current manager Charlie Montoyo.
Local hero and International pop sensation Clay Aiken performs the National Anthem, and there’s a flyover of vintage airplanes before we get down to business before an SRO crowd of 2,638.
The Bulls will be looking to even their record in the Classic game to 1-1, as they lost the first one to the Toledo Mud Hens 6-2 last May 10.
Jeremy Hall (0-2, 12.15) will go against Indy’s Jose Ascaino (0-0, 8.53), who is on Major League rehab. And if the weather is any better anywhere on the planet right now, I want to see it.
Durham gets the crowd all excited with a two-run lead, but the visitors rock the bullpen with three in the seventh and two in the eighth and escape with a 7-5 win.
The Bulls jump on Ascaino for a pair of runs in a noisy first inning. Ray Olmedo leads off with a single to left before Justin Ruggiano reaches on a hard one-bouncer through the legs of third baseman Josh Harrison that is ruled an error. With two out, Chris Carter doubles to the right-field corner to make it 2-0.
The Indians come right back in the second, as John Bowker follows Matt Hague’s single to left with a monster shot over the right-field buildings on a 3-0 pitch.
Durham makes it 3-2 in the second when Jose Lobaton blasts a 2-0 pitch onto the berm behind the left-field fence.
The Bulls tack on another in the fourth, as Russ Canzler hits a one-out double to left center and later scores on J.J. Furmaniak’s sacrifice fly to center.
Durham holds the lead until the seventh with Dane De La Rosa on the mound, as Jason Jaramillo leads off with a single before Andrew Lambo hits one over the wall in right center. Gorkys Hernandez follows with an infield hit to short and takes second before Corey Wimberly coms on to pinch-run. Wimberly advances on Chase d’Arnaud’s bunt, De La Rosa’s throwing error and Pedro Ciriaco’s single to left.
Lambo leads the Indians with the homer and single for three RBI, while Bowker homers and singles for two RBI.
Jose Lobaton homers and singles for the Bulls, while Carter finishes with two RBI on the double and a single.
Garrett Olson (1-0) is the winning pitcher while Dane De La Rosa (3-2) takes the loss.
They said it …
Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo: “We’re 0-2 here. I don't like it. Would you? It's cool, you know. I don't care where I play. I just want to win. … The bullpen didn't have it. (De La Rosa) gave it up. There's no excuses. Our bullpen has been good all year so that was maybe the second time that we've given up the lead. We hit OK. We had a lead, we just couldn't hold it.”
Lobaton: “The home run - it was a good pitch. It was a 2-0 fastball and I was ready for it. They've been throwing a lot of fastballs in for me last week in Indianapolis. I was ready for it and just got lucky. I was seeing the ball pretty good today. The first five innings it was tough with the sun, but other than that it was pretty good.”
Bowker: “It was a lot of fun. It just brought back a summer league, like college atmosphere. Obviously right field is pretty small. I hit the ball pretty well up there. I'm sure some of the guys saw that and tried to pull the ball. I tried to stick with my same approach, because it was pretty tempting to just try to poke one over that short porch.”
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Bulls lead 3-2.
Bulls: Lost 1.
Indianapolis: Won 2.
Bulls (Edgar Gonzalez 2-2, 3.69) vs. Indianapolis (Rudy Owens 2-3, 5.81).