Tides 7, Bulls 0
On the same night the big league club clinched its first AL East crown since 2014 with its 100th victory of the season, the Triple-A Norfolk Tides put an exclamation mark on their winningest season by capturing the International League championship for the first time in 38 years.
Norfolk captured the IL's Governors' Cup by blanking the two-time defending champion Durham Bulls, 7-0, in the decisive Game 3 of the Championship Series in front of an enthralled home crowd at Harbor Park.
The crown, which marked the team’s first league title since 1985, was the early capper to the Orioles affiliate's first postseason appearance since 2015.
“Whether it's the big leagues or it's the Minor Leagues, [playoff runs] are tough to come by and you're gonna remember the guys next to you in this room,” Tides manager Buck Britton said. Full story
Tides 7, Bulls 2
Kyle Stowers finished a single short of the cycle and Coby Mayo, the Orioles' No. 4 prospect, homered as Norfolk evened the best-of-3 Championship Series at one game apiece to force a decisive Game 3 for the International League crown.
Mayo and Stowers’ back-to-back second-inning solo homers set the tone and Joseph Ortiz (BAL No. 6) added three RBIs with a two-run single in the fifth and a run-scoring double in the seventh. Ortiz also made two dazzling defensive plays at second base.
All that offensive and defensive support was more than enough for Austin Voth, who followed southpaw Cole Irvin's three scoreless innings by racking up eight straight strikeouts at one point en route to four shutout frames. Voth punched out nine in while recording 12 outs while Irvin struck out five. All told, Tides pitchers piled up 17 strikeouts to hold Durham’s high-flying offense in check.
Durham's runs came on a seventh-inning homer by Logan Driscoll and an error. Otherwise, Game 2 was all Tides.
Stowers scored three times on his three-hit night and Jackson Holliday (MLB No. 1) collected a double, a single and a walk out of the leadoff spot.
Righty Joey Krehbiel struck out two while shutting the door in the ninth. For the Bulls, Carlos Garcia took the loss after allowing the back-to-back jacks in two innings.
The two teams will square off at 6:35 p.m. ET in the winner-take-all Game 3 on Thursday at Harbor Park. The Bulls are looking to secure their third consecutive IL championship, while the Tides are looking to capitalize on their first playoff appearance since 2015. The victor then will play the Pacific Coast League Finals champions in a winner-take-all Triple-A National Championship Game on Sept. 30 at Las Vegas Ballpark in Nevada.
Bulls 10, Tides 5
Five players racked up multihit games as Durham scored eight runs over the final three frames to take the opener of the best-of-3 Finals, putting the Rays affiliate within a victory of clinching the International League championship for the third year in a row.
Ruben Cardenas set the tempo for the Bulls with three RBIs after collecting a solo homer to right-center field in the third inning and a two-RBI single to center in the seventh. The 25-year-old has posted nine multi-hit games this month.
Tristan Gray also delivered a home run -- starting the scoring with a solo shot in the second inning -- on a two-hit, three-run night. Vidal Bruján plated two runs with a double and a single and Niko Hulsizer notched two singles and a walk and crossed the plate twice. Evan Edwards walked twice, scored two runs and plated another.
While the top two Orioles prospects -- Jackson Holliday (MLB No. 1) and Colton Cowser (MLB No. 14) -- went hitless, Connor Norby swung a mighty bat for the Tides. The Orioles’ No. 7 prospect tallied three hits, including a solo homer to left-center in the fifth. Coby Mayo (BAL No. 4) added two runs on a double in the third.
Lewin Díaz crushed a two-run homer in the ninth for Norfolk, his 18th dinger of the year.
Rays farmhand Josh Fleming earned the win after fanning four across two perfect innings. Javy Guerra struck out two in his lone frame of work.
Garrett Stallings took the loss despite striking out eight across five innings. The right-hander gave up three runs on five hits and two walks. Box score