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Monday, June 11, 2012

Brignac, Bulls slam Toledo for second straight night

Posted by on Mon, Jun 11, 2012 at 11:55 PM

DURHAM BULLS ATHLETIC PARK The Durham Bulls mixed in a win last time out, and following a long rain delay they’ll try for a second straight against another team going through a tough stretch.

Bulls shortstop Reid Brignac
First pitch will be 101 minutes late in the third game of their four-game home series with the Toledo Mud Hens. Neither game has been close so far, as the visitors won the opener 11-1 and then the Bulls took a 7-1 win behind a solid start from Matt Torra on Sunday.

Tonight Lance Pendleton (2-2, 3.55) will take the hill against Thad Weber (4-4, 3.05).

Pendleton doesn’t get the win, but he does get the offense he needs for a positive result, as Reid Brignac’s first career grand slam is the centerpiece of a five-run second-inning rally that sparks a 6-3 win.

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Torra, Bulls play at the top of their game, wallop Toledo

Posted by on Sun, Jun 10, 2012 at 8:42 PM

DURHAM BULLS ATHLETIC PARK Once again the Durham Bulls will try to break an extended losing streak as they play the second of a four-game set of another team that has been struggling.

Bulls pitcher Matt Torra
Durham has dropped five straight while the Toledo Mud Hens, who finally won here last night in an 11-1 rout, have lost five of their last six.

The heat is turned up a bit for the first time in a while, as temperatures are in the mid-80s for the first pitch of the late-afternoon contest.

Matt Torra (4-6, 5.02), just off the disabled list, will take on the Mud Hens’ Brooks Brown (1-1, 4.35).

Torra goes five solid innings and gets all the run support he needs, as the Bulls roll to a 7-1 victory.

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    When the Bulls get good pitching, the defense and hitting seem to follow.

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Soccer by von Clausewitz: Carolina RailHawks romp Minnesota Stars 5-1

Posted by on Sun, Jun 10, 2012 at 10:33 AM

Austen King uses his head...to score a goal for the Carolina RailHawks in their 5-1 win over the Minnesota Stars Saturday night in Cary, N.C.
  • Chris Baird
  • Austen King uses his head...to score a goal for the Carolina RailHawks in their 5-1 win over the Minnesota Stars Saturday night in Cary, N.C.
WAKEMED SOCCER PARK/ CARY—The adage “the best defense is a good offense” derives from the 1832 book On War by Prussian general and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz, who wrote, “The best form of defense is attack.” Over time, it’s an axiom that’s been appropriated to great degree by the world of athletics, from Jack Dempsey to Vince Lombardi.

Locally, it’s become the mantra for the resurgent Carolina RailHawks, whose turnaround from winless cellar-dwellers to victors of three of their last four games—including a shorthanded win over the NASL-leading Puerto Rico Islanders and a US Open Cup defeat of the LA Galaxy—coincided with two revelations. First was the emergence of center-half Gale Agbossoumonde to buoy the back line. Moreover, as important was the RailHawks’ recognizing and embracing their team identity as a collection of potentially potent attackers, so deep in the front third that productive D2 talent like Mike Palacio, Jason Garey and super sub Ty Shipalane haven’t cracked the starting XI since early May.

That attacking strategy continued Saturday evening at WakeMed Soccer Park as the RailHawks (2-5-4, 11 points) ended a six-game home stand by defeating the Minnesota Stars 5-1, handing the Stars their first league loss this season.

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    "The best form of defense is attack," wrote the Prussian general and military theorist.

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tough night for Bulls as Toledo breaks skein with 11-1 rout

Posted by on Sat, Jun 9, 2012 at 11:07 PM

DURHAM BULLS ATHLETIC PARK The Durham Bulls will be looking for a reset this weekend, in a series between two teams headed in the wrong direction.

Bulls infielder Cole Figueroa
Tonight’s contest opens a four-game series with the Toledo Mud Hens, arguably the other most famous of current Triple-A franchises ever since Jamie Farr’s Cpl. Max Klinger made the Mud Hens famous through the long-ago hit CBS series M*A*S*H.

The Bulls come in having lost four games in a row, while Toledo’s current losing streak is six.

Shane Dyer (1-1, 5.40) will take on Toledo’s Jacob Turner (0-1, 4.30) .

And this one is ugly, as Toledo jumps on Dyer from the early going, pouring on 18 hits in an 11-1 victory.

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Friday, June 8, 2012

Yankees, Warren beat Bulls, Archer in local stars' pitching duel

Posted by on Fri, Jun 8, 2012 at 10:30 PM

DURHAM BULLS ATHLETIC PARK The Durham Bulls will take on the Empire State Yankees for the last time this regular season, and tonight there is a rarity in the pitching matchup.

Yankees pitcher Adam Warren
  • Photo courtesy Empire State Yankees
  • Yankees pitcher Adam Warren
Both starters have ties with Triangle educational institutions.

International League strikeout leader and Clayton High product Chris Archer (3-7, 5.09) will go for the Bulls against UNC alumnus Adam Warren (3-3, 4.33).

The Bulls need a win to tie the season series with the Yankees, who are playing an entire season away from their permanent home in Moosic, Pa., while the ballpark there gets an extensive renovation.

It’s a pitchers’ duel after the first inning, and the Yankees allow only five hits to win 3-1 and get the sweep.

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Durham Bulls fall to Yankees (again): Merry-go-round-of-food

Posted by on Fri, Jun 8, 2012 at 6:00 AM

Durham/DBAP—I’m writing this game story from my place on Erwin Road not far from Weaver Dairy in Chapel Hill. It’s a spot equidistant from downtown Durham and Carrboro, the two locations that have overtaken downtown Franklin Street as the hip epicenters of the left edge of the Triangle over the last two decades. Increasingly, and rapidly, Durham surpasses Carrboro by several leagues of complexity and intrigue.

Bulls Manager Charlie Montoyo
  • Bulls Manager Charlie Montoyo. Photo by McKenzie Floyd.

This really has nothing to do with tonight’s 6-2 loss by the Durham Bulls to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, the third straight loss by the Bulls to the Yankees after the Bulls won more than they lost on their recent road trip. Except that it has everything to do with it. Tonight’s attendance at the DBAP was 9068, a random Thursday night.

That’s just about the same number of people that attend a sold-out basketball game in Cameron Indoor Stadium (CIS) during the heart of basketball season, a few miles away. Last year there were eighteen games in CIS and there were seventy-two in the DBAP. You can mark the beginning of downtown Durham's return to vitality to the opening of the DBAP in 1995.

There’s really not that much to report about tonight’s game that hasn’t been reported the last two nights. As Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo stated to the media after tonight's game, “It all depends on pitching. Our pitching the last three nights hasn’t been good enough. We haven’t been able to throw strikes.”

What else can be said?

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Empire State homers spark second straight win over Bulls

Posted by on Wed, Jun 6, 2012 at 10:50 PM

DURHAM BULLS ATHLETIC PARK The Durham Bulls come into the second game of their current homestand probably looking for a normal contest after what happened Tuesday night.

Bulls catcher Stephen Vogt
The Empire State Yankees won that one 12-8, an interminably long contest that featured two three-run homers for each team.

Durham is ahead in the season series with the Yankees, who are scheduled to land in Moosic, Pa., again next season but this year play half-time at a temporary home in Rochester and the rest of their home games seemingly all over the Northeast.

Tonight Lance Pendleton (2-1) will take on the Yankees’ Ramon Ortiz (3-3, 3.47).

And the visitors clearly get the better of it, taking an early lead and rolling to a 9-4 win.

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Star-crossed: Late PK gives Chivas USA 2-1 win over Carolina RailHawks in U.S. Open Cup

Posted by on Wed, Jun 6, 2012 at 8:30 AM

Juan Pablo Ángel uncorks the game-winning PK during Chivas USAs 2-1 win over the Carolina RailHawks in Cary, NC
  • David Fellerath
  • Juan Pablo Ángel uncorks the game-winning PK during Chivas USA's 2-1 win over the Carolina RailHawks in Cary, NC
WAKEMED SOCCER PARK/ CARY—Fans gathering in advance of the Carolina RailHawks’ match against Chivas USA in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup did so at the appointed hour when the transit of Venus was visible in the eastern United States. The RailHawks fortunes in the Open Cup, once considered the equivalent of a small dot against a celestial backdrop, changed a week ago when Carolina ousted—ironically—the Galaxy.

However, it was a mythical stargazer that held more in common with Carolina as they hosted their second Major League Soccer side in successive weeks before 7,117 fans at WakeMed Soccer Park. Like Icarus, the higher the ‘Hawks flew in the annual Cup competition, the more precipitous their eventual fall. Still, it was a fun ride while it lasted, and the RailHawks demonstrated Tuesday evening that not only did they belong on the same pitch with their first-division foes, but they generated ample opportunities to snag a victory.

But by game’s end, Carolina had to contain an opposing front line that included both Juan Agudelo and Juan Pablo Ángel, not coincidentally the two goalscorers for Chivas USA in their 2-1 win over the RailHawks.

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    Like Icarus, the higher the RailHawks flew in the U.S. Open Cup, the more precipitous their eventual fall. Still, it was a fun ride while it lasted.

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Durham Bulls outslugged by Scranton/Wilkes-Barre: Doc Watson R.I.P.

Posted by on Wed, Jun 6, 2012 at 6:00 AM

DBAP/Durham - During the seventh-inning stretch of last night’s 12-8 slugfest between the Durham Bulls and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees at the DBAP (the Bulls scored eight to the winner’s twelve), a moving tranquility happened. There was a moment of silence for the immortal traditional musician from Deep Gap, N.C., Doc Watson, who died last week at age 89.

In a game in which I was numbed by 25 hits and 11 bases on balls from the two teams, the paralyzing cacophony was stopped for a moment of tribute to Watson, one of the greatest guitar pickers in American history (whether he was playing rockabilly or old-time mountain music).

Batting practice, June 5
  • Photograph by McKenzie Floyd
  • Batting practice, June 5

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

California Dreamin’: Carolina RailHawks prepare to host Juan Agudelo, Chivas USA

Posted by on Tue, Jun 5, 2012 at 8:30 AM

Juan Agudelo after Mondays Chivas USA training session for their U.S. Open Cup match against the Carolina RailHawks
  • Neil Morris
  • Juan Agudelo after Monday's Chivas USA training session for their U.S. Open Cup match against the Carolina RailHawks
WAKEMED SOCCER PARK/ CARY—It was May 13, and Colin Clarke needed something to do. The day before, Clarke coached the Carolina RailHawks to a loss in Minnesota, and there were a couple of days to kill before traveling to Portland, Ore. to scout PSA Elite, the RailHawks’ eventual opponent in the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

So, Clarke arranged a detour to the San Francisco area for a day of sand, sightseeing and golf. That night, he also took in the closest Major League Soccer game: Chivas USA visiting the San Jose Earthquakes.

Little did Clarke know that just over three weeks later and 2,000 miles away, his RailHawks would host Chivas USA in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup. In their four matches since, Carolina has notched three wins and one draw, including victories over the NASL-leading Puerto Rico Islanders and, most notably, an Open Cup shocker over the Los Angeles Galaxy, the defending MLS champions.

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    While the L.A. Galaxy fielded a weakened team against the RailHawks last week, Chivas has brought a full-strength squad to Cary.

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