By Josh Cook
The Louisville Bats messed the Bulls and got the horns, again.
The Durham Bulls beat the Bats 4-2 Sunday evening at Durham Bulls Athletic Park to win the best-of-five Governors’ Cup playoff series three games to two, and to end a remarkable season for Louisville.
It was the fifth time, and the third year in a row, that the Bulls have beaten the Bats in the International League postseason.
Durham extended that streak Sunday thanks to a solid start from former Bat Bobby Livingston and some timely hitting.
Louisville, which won its third straight IL West title on the final day of the regular season, mustered only five hits against Livingston and two Durham relievers.
The Bats fell behind early, but tied the game in the top of the fifth inning. However Louisville managed just one hit the rest of the way.
The Bulls scored two runs in the second inning off Bats starter Jeremy Horst. The lefty walked Joe Dillon to start the inning, then after a pair of Durham outs Dillon stole second before Horst walked catcher Nevin Ashley. Fernando Perez followed with a single to left field, where Todd Frazier’s fielding error allowed both Dillon and Ashley to score.
Horst, who made a pair of starts for the Bats during the regular season, gave up only one hit over four innings but allowed those two unearned runs while walking four and striking out four over four innings.
Louisville tied the game in the fifth against Livingston. With one out in the inning Michael Griffin singled to left field, where a fielding error by Leslie Anderson allowed him to reach second. He moved to third on Eric Eymann’s single. The next batter, Wilkin Castillo, hit to Livingston. The Durham pitcher then threw to third baseman Angel Chavez, who threw home, where Ashley tagged out Griffin. Kris Negron followed with a two-run double to tie the score.
Louisville’s momentum was short-lived, however. Micah Owings, who came on in relief of Horst to start the bottom half of the inning, gave up a one-out, solo homer to Durham second baseman J.J. Furmaniak.
Livingston, who gave up two earned runs on four hits and struck out four in five innings, and two relievers did the rest. Joe Bateman gave up a two-out single to Wladimir Balentien that ended up being the Bats last hit of the game, as well as their last of the season.
Winston Abreu pitched the final 1 1/3 innings and got some help when Chavez doubled in Anderson, who had also doubled against Louisville reliever Daniel Ray Herrera. The Bats went 1-2-3 in the ninth as Balentien grounded out, Frazier struck out and Griffin popped out, fittingly, to Furmaniak, who hit .412 in the series.
The Bulls move on to face Columbus, the team Louisville rallied to beat for the West division title on the final day of the regular season, in the Governors’ Cup championship series.