On a great night for baseball the Norfolk Tides lit up the night against their nemesis the 2009 Governor’s Cup champion Durham Bulls. After splitting the first two games in this opening series between the teams the Tides combined outstanding pitching with an offensive display not seen since June of 2009.
The Tides attack was led by First Baseman Brandon Snyder who went 2 for 5 and had 3 RBIs two of which came on a 7th inning double and Shortstop Robert Andino who cleared waivers from Baltimore and went 2 for 5 with 3 RBIs. Left Fielder Lou Montanez drove in 2 as did Right Fielder and former Bull Rhyne Hughes. Center Fielder Joey Gathright got his first two hits of the season a single and a double and scored two runs.
Tides’ pitching was led by newly acquired Alfredo Simon who pitched three innings allowing 3 hits and no runs and was pulled when he reached his pitch count striking out three. Chris George came into the game in relief of Simon in the 4th inning. George gave up 3 runs in 3.2 innings giving up a home run to Chris Richard in the 4th. He would be relieved by Kam Mickolio in the bottom of the 7th. Mickolio pitched one and an third giving up a hit and two walks. Dennis Sarfate took down the Bulls in order during the 9th.
The Bulls did not fare so well. Starting pitcher David Bennett went six innings giving up 6 runs on 8 hits. He would be relieved in the 7th by Richard De Los Santos who was hammered for 6 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks.
The Tides began their barrage scoring 5 runs in the bottom of the third after Bennett had gotten the first two Tides out. It began with a four pitch walk to catcher Steven Lerud and followed by a “merry-go-round” on the base paths with Joey Gathright, Robert Andino, Lou Montanez, Scott Moore, Brandon Snyder and Josh Bell all getting base hits before Michael Aubrey grounded out to end the inning.
Durham would pick up one on Richard’s home run in the 4th, another in the 5th and a final run in the 7th off of George. Not to be outdone the Tides scored one in the bottom of the sixth when Rhyne Hughes grounded into a fielder’s choice to drive in Brandon Snyder off of Bennett. In the 7th Norfolk picked up two more runs when Joey Gathright doubled off of De Los Santos, Scott Moore was intentionally walked and Brandon Snyder doubled deep to right field driving in both Gathright and Moore before being gunned down at third by Bulls Second Baseman Elliott Johnson on the relay from right.
After shutting down Durham in the top of the 8th the Tides run machine began again when Josh Bell led off with a double to right and driven in by a Rhyne Hughes single. With Hughes on and one out Steven Lerud picked up his second walk and following a strike out to Joey Gathright Robert Andino doubled to score both Hughes and Lerud. De Los Santos threw a wild pitch which advanced Andino to third and then gave up a single to Montanez to drive home Andino while Scott Moore struck out to end the inning.
Dennis Sarfate came on in the ninth to close the game out in a non-save situation. He got Elliott Johnson to ground out and then struck out both Fernando Perez and Rashad Eldridge. Sarfate showed no sign of the injury which plagued him in 2008 and 2009 throwing hard with 9 strikes on 13 pitches. Most of his pitches were above 94 miles an hour with one registering 98 on the scoreboard radar. His only off speed pitch was the final pitch of the game where he pulled up with an 82 mile an hour change up which Eldridge missed badly.
Chris George picked up the win and Bennett the loss. The teams will complete this series on 1:15 PM Sunday at Harbor Park with Brandon Erbe making his Tides debut against Durham’s Virgil Vasquez. The weather is expected to be great with a temperature of 71 at game time and clear skies. See you there.