LAWRENCEVILLE, GA – A five-run second inning carried the Durham Bulls (63-79) to a 7-3 victory over the Gwinnett Braves (64-77) Saturday night at Coolray Field in the G-Braves’ regular season home finale.
The G-Braves’ loss, coupled with Charlotte (64-78) taking both games of a doubleheader at home vs. Norfolk Saturday, shrunk Gwinnett’s IL South Division lead to just 0.5 games with two to play. Durham was eliminated by the Knights’ two victories.
Durham batted around in the second against Chris Ellis (L, 4-7), as Richie Shaffer delivered the big blow with a two-RBI double. Hank Conger and Casey Gillaspie each collected RBI hits in the frame for the Bulls.
That was more than enough for starter Justin Marks (W, 7-11) who held the G-Braves off the scoreboard over 6.1 innings. The lefty allowed only five hits, all singles, while striking out six and walking one.
The G-Braves got singles from Emilio Bonifacio and Reid Brignac to open the first, but didn’t score after a fielder’s choice and a double-play grounder. Blake Lalli and Daniel Castro singled to start the third, but two groundouts and a strikeout by Marks kept Gwinnett silent again.
Ellis settled down after the second inning and allowed only one baserunner over the next three innings to finish his night. Durham got two runs off reliever Jason Hursh in the seventh, on an RBI single by Gillaspie and a sacrifice fly by Taylor Motter.
Gwinnett rallied for three runs in the eighth off Ryne Stanek, as Bonifacio scored on a wild pitch andSean Kazmar Jr. doubled home two runs.
But Neil Wagner and Casey Coleman got the final five G-Braves’ in order to cap the night.
Shaffer finished 3-for-4 with two RBI to lead Durham’s 10-hit attack and Gillaspie was 2-for-5 with two RBI.
Bonifacio and Castro each had two of Gwinnett’s seven hits as the club went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
The G-Braves head to Charlotte to take on the Knights for the final two games of the regular season, beginning Sunday at 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Rob Wooten (3-4, 3.25) will start for Gwinnett against righty Terance Marin (7-7, 5.00) for Charlotte. Tony Schiavone will have the play-by-play call on 97.7 FM at 6:35 p.m.