Last night, the Durham Bulls completed in a 3 game sweep of the Governors' Cup Finals of the International League in a 12 inning victory over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.
Game One featured Jeremy "Narwhal" Hellickson on the mound in a 4-1 victory. Hellickson did not disappoint, allowing 1 run on a solo shot, one of 5 hits surrendered over 6.2 IP. He struck out 6 and walked 1. Hellickson threw 99 pitches, with 64 being strikes, 14 of the swing and miss variety. The offense was led by Joe Dillon who went 2-3 with a BB. Matt Joyce also chipped in a double.
The Bulls used a collaborative pitching approach for Game 2 with the recovering Mitch Talbot making the start in another 4-1 victory. Talbot allowed one unearned run in 3.1 IP, striking out 2, walking 3, and allowing 3 hits. The bullpen picked him up nicely with Joe Bateman, Julio DePaula, and Winston Abreu combining for 5.2 innings of shutout work. The story of this game was Desmond Jenning's Black Stallion sidekick Rashad Eldridge who went 3-4 with 2 doubles and a home run driving in 3 of the Bulls' runs and accounting for half their hits. This game also featured an incredible must-see behind the back double play turned by Elliot Johnson and Sean Rodriguez. Matt Joyce chipped in another double.
"The Strandman" Jason Cromer made the start for the Bulls in Game 3 and lived up to his name. Cromer lasted 6 innings allowing 2 runs while walking 4 and allowing 4 hits. He manage 6 strikeouts. The Bulls managed to tie the score at 2 in the eighth on a Desmond Jennings single. Jennings also managed 3 stolen bases in the game. Finally, in the 12thJohn Jaso doubled in Elliot Johnson to give the Bulls a 3-2 lead. The bullpen pitched 6 innings of scoreless relief giving them 14 innings of scoreless relief for the series. The team did surrender 11 walks for the game, including Crazy Joe Nelson walking the bases loaded in the 8th before Heath Rollins induced a fly out. In the bottom of the 12thJustin Ruggiano made a diving catch, where failure would have certainly meant defeat.
The Bulls will play the winner of the Pacific Coast League on Tuesday night on ESPN, which will hopefully give the world a rare glimpse of the Narwhal.
At the A+ level, the Charlotte Stone Crabs failed in a deciding game 5 to defeat the Tampa Yankees. Of note, was a very impressive game 4 by the red hot David Newmann who went 8.2 innings striking out 4 while walking 1. Newmann took a no-hit bid into the 7th before finishing with 4 hits allowed. Newmann continues to induce ground outs, with15 for the game. Congrats to the Crab on a great first season!
One other positive note from the Minors courtesy of Stacey Long and the St. Pete Times' John Romano: Darrin Downs, who suffered a terrible skull fracture in his second start at Montgomery when a 103 MPH line drive ricocheted off his head all the way into the 3rdbase dugout, is on the road to recovery and will be able to pitch in 2009. Long's piece is a feel good look at the soon-to-be married young man. Downs will be at the Trop tonight to collect the Trophy as the Charlotte Stone Crabs' 2009 MVP. Downs is still undergoing therapy for speech recovey.