Saturday, September 6, 2014

Game 3 to the Bulls

Mahtook barehands a ball off the wall. His throw prevented a triple in the 8th.
Photo: Robert Willett, News & Observer

Governors’ Cup Playoffs (Best of 5): 2-1
Wrap, Box, News & Observer, International League

Today’s game starts at 1:05! If you bought advance tickets, ignore the 7:05 start time printed on the ticket. Why the early start? Maybe because of all the football going on around the area ... although Trinity College is on the road.

Meanwhile, how about the Bulls!

What an terrific baseball game. Nice post-season crowd of Bulls fanatics. Matt Adriese, who had four no-decisions in recent games, pretty much kept the Clippers in hand. The notable exception was the beginning of the 5th inning when the first two batters hit solo home runs and brought the Clippers to within one run.

The first home run was hit by former Bull Elliot Johnson, a stalwart from years past and still a favorite of WDBB. And of at least one fog-horn-voiced fan who serenaded his first at bat with, “E-L-L-I-O-T.” A notable difference from years past when the call from the same fan was, “Elliot, get a hit.”  Elliot Johnson still stands tall on our all-time greatest Bulls hitters list, even if we have to say that we’d appreciate a modest slump for the next two days.

Meanwhile, Bulls hitters were aggressive in the 1st and 2nd innings with Justin Christian doubling on the first pitch of the game, moving to third base on a Mikie Mahtook ground out, and scoring on a Jeremy Moore single. Then Tim Beckham doubled Moore in. Nick Franklin led off the 2nd inning with a thrilling home run and I thought the Bulls were going to run away with it. That didn’t happen. Instead the great Bulls bullpen came out for the 6th and took charge.

C.J. Riefenhauser was his old self, much recovered from his tough outing on Wednesday. Charlie Montoyo was not saving his pitching staff. Both Lueke and Adam Liberatore pitched on Thursday night (Lueke got the win, Liberatore got the save). And here they were after an 8-hour bus ride back out there. Josh Lueke had a lead off double, but a nice play by Mikie Mahtook prevented a triple. But that was the last life of the Clippers. After three quick outs, Adam Liberatore came in for three more outs and the save.

What does it mean? Well it means more baseball at the DBAP! The Bulls have two chances to win this playoff round, but today would be a lot better than tomorrow. Nathan Karns is scheduled to start. He’s had some awful outings lately, yet he’s also a talented young man. We can hope.

I glanced back at this time last year and was surprised to see so many familiar names: Cole Figueroa, Vince Belnome, Tim Beckham, Mike Fontenot, Merrill Kelly, Adam Liberatore, and probably a couple others I’ve missed.

Meanwhile, the Pawtucket Red Sox swept the Syracuse Chiefs in three games and are now waiting to see who they will play for the Governors’ Cup.

Leaning over the dugout rail were two ballplayers we have not seen before: Andrew Bellatti, a 22 year-old right-handed reliever who had a decent year with the Biscuits (stats) and Taylor Motter, a 24 year old outfielder (mostly) who played a lot of baseball in Montgomery this year — 116 games (stats). I’d guess that, if needed, we will see some roster manipulations, but for now they just have really good seats for the games.

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