DURHAM, N.C. – The Durham Bulls threw out the tying run at the plate in the ninth to edge Duke, 2-1, in The Battle in Bull City exhibition game between the two Durham Bulls Athletic Park residents Tuesday evening at the DBAP.
“Tonight was a lot of fun,” said head coach Chris Pollard. “This was a really good celebration of the partnership that exists between Duke and the Durham Bulls. We represented Duke really well, we represented the ACC really well and we had a lot of fun doing it.”
Duke used five pitchers in the contest to limit the Bulls to two runs on six hits for the game. Freshman Graeme Stinson threw four quality innings in the no decision, allowing one run on four hits. Left-handers Luke Whitten, Chris McGrath and James Ziemba worked a perfect frame each in relief as the Blue Devils retired the final 11 Bulls batters consecutively.
“Great showing by Duke and it starts with the head coach,” said Bulls manager Jared Sandberg. “Chris [Pollard] was excited to play us. We were excited to play them, excited for the community. I’m excited for their players and what it does for them from a marketing and a recruiting standpoint. To come in here and play the game that they played and get their guys in there, it was a fantastic exhibition.”
Duke led 1-0 following the second but Durham scored lone runs in the fourth and fifth to take a lead it would not relinquish. Left-hander Ryan Yarbrough scattered four hits over six innings in the win while freshman righty Matt Mervis yielded one run on two hits in his inning of work to suffer the loss.
The first two Blue Devils reached the following frame, freshman Chris Dutra with a single and sophomore Jimmy Herron via walk, but Yarbrough worked out of the jam. He set down the final 12 batters he faced to give the Bulls time to rally.
Willy Adames doubled and scored on Jake Bauers’ RBI single in the fourth before a Johnny Field triple turned into the game-winning run an inning later. Jake Hager drove an RBI base knock to left field to plate Field.
Down 2-1 in the top of the ninth, sophomore Durham native Aaron Therien ripped a ninth-inning leadoff double down the left field line. Sophomore Kennie Taylor roped a single to right field, but the Bulls’ relay throw clipped Therien at the plate to keep the game-tying run off the board.
“To be a local player, a guy who walked on that I probably told a dozen different times he probably wouldn’t make our team … to watch Aaron go up in the ninth inning and have the at bat he did was just really special,” Pollard added.
Duke returns to its regular season schedule this weekend with a trip to Miami to face the Hurricanes Saturday-Monday.