Bats Fall to Bulls, 8-4, in Series Opener
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Despite swatting a pair of two-run home runs, the Louisville Bats (25-41) were unable to hold off the Durham Bulls (38-30), falling, 8-4, Tuesday evening in the series opener at Louisville Slugger Field. Although the Bats pulled to within one run in the fourth, they could not withstand a five-run Bulls rally in the eighth inning.
Louisville starter Robert Stephenson (5-6, 3.91) picked up the loss, allowing three runs, five hits and five walks over five innings of work. For Durham, right-hander Ryan Weber entered in the second inning and earned the win, going 5.1 innings while allowing four hits and two runs.
The Bulls got going early as shortstop Andrew Velazquez led off with a walk before stealing second and coming around to score a line drive single to center from left fielder Kean Wong. Two more Durham batters reached on walks, but Stephenson induced a grounder that avoided further damage. In the bottom half of the frame, second baseman Nick Senzel extended his hitting streak to nine, but he was quickly caught stealing. Center fielder Phillip Ervin followed up with a single and successfully took second, but he was stranded by two straight Bats. Ervin eventually notched a 3-for-4 performance with three singles.
Durham's offense awakened again in the fourth as a trio of singles helped bolster the lead to 3-0. Louisville answered in the bottom half as third baseman D.J. Peterson narrowed the lead to one with a 443-ft., two-run bomb to left that followed up a walk to Gabriel Guerrero.
The middle innings moved briskly as both bullpens posted consecutive 1-2-3 innings, but the Bats' side faltered first in the top of the eighth. Facing Louisville reliever Kyle Crockett, the Bulls notched consecutive doubles, extending the lead to 5-2. Following a pitching change, the Bulls continued to rake, picking up three more hits and leaving the inning with an 8-2 lead. In the bottom of the ninth, first baseman Steve Selsky amended the Bats' final tally with a two-run homer to left, but it was not enough as the Bulls closed out the contest.
The Bats and Bulls will continue their three-game set with a day game Wednesday afternoon at noon at Louisville Slugger Field. Louisville will send out southpaw Justin Nicolino (2-4, 4.50) against Durham right-hander Yonny Chirinos (0-1, 4.41), with first pitch set for noon.
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