DBAP/ DURHAM The Durham Bulls have been here plenty of times, making the Governors’ Cup Playoffs in a ridiculous 11 of their 14 International League seasons.
The Bulls, who have won five straight South Division titles, are seeking their fifth straight appearance in the Cup Finals under Charlie Montoyo. Durham has won three Cups, including the National Championship team from 2009.
The defending Triple-A National Champion Clippers are looking for their second straight Cup under second-year skipper and manager of the year Mike Sarbaugh, who is looking to become the fourth manager to win the title in each of his first two seasons in the league. Columbus has won eight IL championships, including defeating the Bulls in four games in last season’s final.
The survivor will host the first two games of the best-of-5 final against either Pawtucket or Lehigh Valley beginning Sept. 13, with the winner going to the National Championship game in Albuquerque on Sept. 20. Durham will host the National Championship Game in 2012.
Tonight presents an interesting pitchers’ duel, as rookie Clayton product Chris Archer (1-0, 0.69) will go for the Bulls with former Bull Mitch Talbot (4-2, 4.26) — who was a member of that 2009 team - going for Columbus.
Sadly for the Bulls' this one goes the wrong way, as Columbus dominates after the first inning in an 8-3 win.
The Clippers jump on Archer for three runs in the first. Tim Fedroff leads off with a walk before scoring on Beau Mills’ ground-rule double to right. Chad Huffman then blasts a 1-1 offering over the Blue Monster wall in left for his second homer in the series.
But the Bulls get to Talbot for two in the bottom of the frame. Tim Beckham leads off with a single to right center. Then with one out Matt Carson doubles to left before Dan Johnson brings home both runners with a single to center.
The Clippers make it 4-2 in the second as Argenis Reyes hits a one-out single to right and scores on Travis Buck’s one-out single to right.
But Columbus scores a run in the sixth and adds three more in the seventh, with the key two-out hits - a two-run double from Juan Diaz and an RBI double from Luke Carlin — coming off Adam Russell.
They said it …
Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo: “We had Talbot on the ropes. We know he always has one bad inning (as he did in the first) but we didn’t take advantage of it any more. We also didn’t make some plays in the outfield that they played and were huge. … We’re more relaxed than they are now, because we’ve got them in a hole. But we’re playing them at their place.”
Columbus manager Mike Sarbaugh: “The experiences that you have in baseball definitely help you in these type games. After the first inning Archer really threw the ball well for them. He really stepped up. You can see why he’s the pitcher he is. We feel good about being up 2-0, but this series isn’t over. There’s still a lot of work left. We have to take it like we have the first couple of games and take it one inning at a time.”
Archer: “I felt like, minus a couple of pitches, I pitched pretty well. I had a combination of fastball and slider and changeup for the strikeouts. It’s great playing here, both being close to home and with this group of guys.”
What does it all mean?
That barring some sort of miracle, it’s “Wait ‘till next year” time for the Bulls.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Diaz’ double in the seventh.
Columbus leads 2-0.
Bulls: Lost 2.
Columbus: Won 2.
Bulls (Alex Torres 9-7, 3.08) at Columbus (Joe Martinez 8-9, 4.04), Friday, 7:05 p.m.