Some would say coincidence, but others would argue it was a little Charlie Montoyo magic.
Either way, the Durham Bulls took a step toward advancing in a playoff series for the sixth time in the past seven postseason appearances under their veteran manager. The Bulls held on for a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Clippers in Game 3 of the Governors’ Cup in front of 5,514 fans Friday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
“That was a nail-biter,” Montoyo said. “We scored early and this time I thought we would score more runs, but their bullpen did a good job. It seemed like they had some momentum in a lot of innings, but we made good pitches to minimize the damage.”
The Governors’ Cup serves as the first round of the International League playoffs. The Bulls’ victory was the second in a row for South Division’s champion over the West Division champs after the teams split the first two games played in Ohio.
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The teams meet in Game 4 at 1:05 p.m. Saturday at DBAP. The fifth game, if necessary, is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. Sunday.
Durham took a 3-0 lead in the first two innings and right-hander Matt Andreise started the game strongly to pick up the win with eight strikeouts, two walks and three hits in five innings.
Andriese’s performance was a microcosm of his fourth professional season and first full year at the AAA level. His 11-8 regular-season record featured a 10-1 stretch between May 10 and July 17. But the former San Diego Padres prospect acquired in the off-season lost his edge, finishing July and August 0-4 with four no-decisions.
He began his postseason start with his mid-season stuff with a one-hitter with seven strikeouts through four innings. But Columbus’ Elliot Johnson and Ryan Rohlinger, the Nos. 7 and 8 hitters, led off the fifth with back-to-back home runs to trim the Bulls’ lead to 3-2. The 25-year-old from Redlands, Calif., recorded his eighth strike to get out of the inning, but the game was finished by three Durham relievers.
Durham opened with a first-pitch double into the left-field corner by center-fielder Justin Christian. He scored on a two-out single by first baseman Jeremey Moore, and came home on shortstop Tim Beckham’s 400-double off the wall in straightaway center.
The Bulls took a 3-0 lead when second baseman Nick Franklin led off the second inning with a first-pitch home run to right field.