Hot off the radio, sportsfans: The Durham Bulls have just beaten the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, 3-2 in 12 innings, to claim the Governor’s Cup, their first since 2003.
The bottom of the 12th was a sweaty-palmed affair after the Bulls plated the go-ahead run on the top of the inning on a double by John Jaso. Durham closer Winston Abreu, the most dominant pitcher in the league, came on seeking his third save in as many nights. He issued a four-pitch leadoff walk to Juan Miranda, discovered a bloody popped blister on his finger, and left the game.
Julio DePaula came in, making his third appearance in as many nights. DePaula is the only Bull to have been on the active roster all season long. He got Cody Ransom to fly out to left field on the first pitch he threw. Then he walked John Rodriguez. It was the 11th walk of the night allowed by Durham pitchers. The next batter, Reegie Corona, sliced a looper down the left-field line. Justin Ruggiano chased after it and made a diving, game-saving catch. The Roodge threw into the infield, where Ray Olmedo fielded the ball and tried to double Rodriguez off of first—but his throw was wild. Both runners advanced. Ruggiano crouched in left field, in pain. In the previous inning, Desmond Jennings, who had tied the game in the eighth inning with a slump-breaking, two-out, two-run single, had apparently injured himself a little bit on a big swing. He stayed in the game. The Bulls were going down, man by man, before our eyes ears.
With two outs now, the tying run was on third and the winning run on second. Doug Bernier, one of those pesky slap hitters, stepped in. He got ahead 2-1, then DePaula evened it at 2-2. Bernier hit a comebacker toward the mound. DePaula speared it. Rather than risk a throw, he ran the ball to first himself, stepped on the bag for a 1u putout (it brought to mind a funky 1u putout he made earlier this season when he ran down a man in the shortstop hole), and with their only wire-to-wire player taking the final out into his own hands, the Bulls were champions of the league. They’ll play in the Triple-A Championship game in Oklahoma City on Tuesday night, against the winner of the Pacific Coast League championship series between Memphis and Sacramento.
I’ll be back with more later, perhaps not until tomorrow. But for now: Congratulations, 2009 Bulls, from Triangle Offense and the Independent Weekly. It’s been a helluva season.