The Bulls rallied in the eighth and ninth innings and brought the winning run to the plate, but the Richmond Braves managed to hold on for a 4-2 in Game 1 of the 2007 Governors’ Cup Playoffs on Tuesday night at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The Braves took charge in the seventh inning, scoring the first three runs of the game. With one out, Doug Clark and Wes Timmons hit back-to-back singles and Iker Franco walked to load the bases. Mike Rozema came through with a double, hitting a sharp grounder down the first base line to score Clark and Timmons. Franco then scored with aggressive base-running on a grounder hit by Gregor Blanco. It appeared second baseman Elliot Johnson had a chance to throw Franco out at home, but Johnson bobbled the ball and could only retire Blanco on the play. RHP Chad Orvella then relieved LHP J.P. Howell (0-1) and struck out Brent Lillibridge to end the inning.
Chris Richard knocked in the Bulls’ first run in the eighth inning with an RBI-single scoring Jon Weber, but Rozema responded with a home run in the top of the ninth inning. The Bulls were down 4-1 with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, but former N.C. State RHP Joey Devine allowed back-to-back singles to Michel Hernandez and Elliot Johnson. Weber then hit the first pitch he saw to center field but Blanco made a diving catch to hold the runners. Devine surrendered an RBI-single to Jason Pridie to allow the Bulls to pull within two, but retired Justin Ruggiano to end the game and tally his fourth save of the playoffs.
Howell worked 6 2/3 innings, surrendering three runs on 10 hits and a walk while striking out six. RHP Jeff Bennett (2-0) held the Bulls scoreless for six innings, giving up just three hits and two walks while striking out six.
The Bulls and Braves will meet again for Game 2 of the Governors’ Cup finals on Wednesday night at 7 PM at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. For tickets, go to www.durhambulls.com or call the box office at (919) 956-BULL.
Thanks to DBBC’s Matt DeMargel for this capcom story & photo.