Baseball

Durham Bulls aim for record-tying third consecutive International League title

Durham Bulls players and coaches celebrate an International League playoff series win over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in their clubhouse on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in Moosic, Pa. The Bulls are seeking their third consecutive league championship.
Durham Bulls players and coaches celebrate an International League playoff series win over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in their clubhouse on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, in Moosic, Pa. The Bulls are seeking their third consecutive league championship.

The Durham Bulls quest for a third consecutive International League championship rolls on to Columbus.

Champions of their Class AAA baseball league the past two seasons, the Bulls clobbered Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 17-2, Saturday to complete a three-game sweep of their best-of-5 playoff series.

Durham advances to the International League Governor’s Cup final to face Columbus with the league championship on the line. The best-of-5 series begins in Columbus with the first two games scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

The series shifts to Durham Bulls Athletic Park for Game 3 on Thursday night. Games four and five will be Friday and Saturday nights, if necessary. Scheduled start times for Thursday and Friday night games are 7:05 p.m., while Saturday’s is 6:35 p.m.

The Tampa Bay Rays’ top minor-league farm team, Durham seeks its seventh International League championship since entering the league in 1998. The Bulls have now made the playoffs 16 times in their 22 International League seasons, making the finals 13 times.

Since the International League began awarding the Governor’s Cup to its champion in 1933, Columbus is the lone franchise to win it three consecutive seasons. That happened from 1979-1981.

Durham has a chance to match that feat this week.

Led by first-year manager Brady Williams, the Bulls went 75-64 in the regular season to claim a wild-card berth into this year’s four-team playoffs.

An Illinois native, Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. Prior to his arrival in Durham, he worked for newspapers in Columbia and Spartanburg, S.C., Biloxi, Miss., and Charlotte covering beats including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, University of South Carolina athletics and the S.C. General Assembly.
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