Monday, April 18, 2011

Justin Ruggiano — RBI King

Durham Bulls 4; Gwinnett Braves 1 (11 innings)
Season: 8-4
Wrap, Box

Wasn’t it nice to see Justin Ruggiano have a great day? And a great day it was. To lay it out: Justin came to bat with two out in the bottom of the third inning, no score, and absolutely crushed one over the Blue Monster between the bull and the Tobacco Road restaurant. It would have been a homer in any park in the country. Then in the 11th he came to bat with two out, game tied 1-1, and runners (Olmedo and Jennings) on third and first bases. On a 1-0 pitch he made a beautiful shot into the right field stands, just clearing the fence. Could not have gotten his first home runs of the year in a more timely fashion.

Not that he wasn’t doing OK, but his four RBIs today put him in the lead in that category among the Bulls. And it made a very tough game into a great afternoon.

Getting to the end was not easy. Dirk Hayhurst had a brilliant 6 2/3 innings spoiled only by a bit of sloppy play between Omar Luna and Leslie Anderson that let an unearned run score in the 6th. I could not have been more proud of my fellow Durham Bulls fans when we first acknowledged that he’d had a no-hitter going until the double by Bowman in the 6th and then gave him another great cheer when he was taken out with two outs in the 7th. This was my first time seeing him on the mound, but looking forward to a lot more outings. He is a very crafty guy. 8 Ks, no walks, ERA of 1.02 and WHIP of 0.62 over his first 18 innings. Pretty good.

The stretch from the 7th to the 11th was actually difficult to watch. The Bulls left runners in scoring position in what was then a 1-1 game in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings.

In the meantime our very impressive crew out of the bullpen of Cory Wade, Mike Ekstrom, and Dane De La Rosa (who got the win) kept things in check, awaiting Ruggiano’s turn at bat.

Now Charlotte, the White Sox affiliate, is coming to town for four games and then that’s it for April and the Bulls in Durham. Have I mentioned that this schedule doesn’t make sense?

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