Wong’s Slam Lifts Durham Past Memphis

It may not have been the biggest hit of his career, but it certainly was the biggest hit of the night.  Kean Wong, who hit just five home runs all season for Durham, blasted a go-ahead grand slam in the fourth inning of the Triple-A National Championship Game, to give the Bulls the lead that they never squandered.  Durham capped off a magnificent season beating the Memphis Redbirds, the class of the Pacific Coast League, 5-3 Tuesday night in Scranton, PA.

Dakota Hudson went three innings for Memphis striking out five – Photo by Gabe Rodriguez – CNYBaseball

Wong who was just a triple away from the cycle, ended the night 3-for-4 driving in four of the five Bulls’ runs.  It wasn’t just with his bat where Wong excelled, he did it with his glove as well.  The 22-year old flashed some leather making some fine defensive plays in the field preserving the lead he gave them.

The crowd of nearly 9,383 certainly left PNC Field entertained.  The turnstiles Tuesday night is just a testament on how far minor league baseball has come.  There was a team from North Carolina facing a team from Tennessee playing against each other in Pennsylvania and the game nearly filled the 10,000 stadium.

Ryan Yarbrough who started and won both playoff games he was in this season got the ball for Durham.  On the other side for Memphis was Dakota Hudson, who is listed as the St. Louis Cardinals #8 prospect.  Neither starter really dominated and both had relatively quick outings.  Yarbrough, who let up two of the Redbirds runs, would go just an inning and a third never really finding his command.  Hudson did make it three innings before Memphis turned things over to the bullpen.

The Redbirds got on the board first scoring twice in the first frame.  After Tyler O’Neill singled and Jose Adolis Garcia was plunked by Yarbrough, Jacob Wilson smacked a double driving in both baserunners to take an early 2-0 lead.

Durham would respond and cut the lead in half in the third, when Jake Bauers had a RBI groundout scoring Johnny Fields who led off the inning with a walk.

Jake Bauers drove in the first Bulls run of the game – Photo by Gabe Rodriguez – CNYBaseball

Memphis would get the run back in the top of the fourth inning on a sac-fly by Jeremy Martinez, but all of that would be erased by Wong’s grand slam in the bottom half of the inning.  The Redbirds got close

getting a runner to third during the fifth inning but that would be it for any real threat.

Brent Honeywell entered the game for Durham in the sixth inning and went 2.2 innings picking up the win, his 13th of the season.  Diego Castillo would be summoned into the game with two outs in the eighth for a four-out save opportunity.  The save would be his eighth for Durham and his 15th for the season at both the Double-A and Triple-A levels.

Josh Zeid, who gave up the grand slam to Kean Wong, was on the hook for the loss.  It was his fifth of the season.

Durham improves to 2-1 in National Championship Games while Memphis now falls to 0-2.