The Louisville Bats (26-41) upended the Durham Bulls (38-31) 9-6 in a weather-shortened game that was called after seven and one-third innings on Wednesday afternoon at Louisville Slugger Field.
The game experienced two delays before being called in the seventh frame. The first lasted 44 minutes in the bottom of the third inning and the second lasted 46 minutes in the top of the eighth frame before the game was ultimately called due to weather.
Justin Nicolino (3-4, 4.68) recorded the victory for the Bats after tossing five innings and giving up seven hits, four runs, and one walk while striking out three on 94 pitches (65 strikes) in his 13th start of the season. Durham starter Yonny Chirinos (0-2, 7.63) suffered the defeat after giving up seven runs, seven hits, and two walks in two and one-third inning.
The Bats jumped out 2-0 in the bottom of the second thanks to an RBI single by center fielder Phillip Ervin and then added the second run via an RBI double to left by catcher Joe Hudson. The Bulls answered in the third with four runs of their own to pull ahead 4-2.
Durham’s only lead was short lived however, as Louisville exploded for five runs in the bottom half of the third. A double by right fielder Gabriel Guerrero dwindled the lead down to one run at 4-3. The Bats proceeded to load the bases up which gave left fielder Josh VanMeter the opportunity to blast a grand slam into the right-field bleachers and give his team the lead for the remainder of the afternoon.
The grand slam goes as VanMeter’s third home run of the season. It was also the first grand slam for a Bat at Louisville Slugger Field since current New York Mets catcher Devin Mesoraco‘s grand slam on July 17, 2017 against Syracuse.
Louisville added insurance runs to its lead in the fourth and fifth innings with the first coming on a sacrifice-fly by third baseman Dilson Herrera that scored second baseman Nick Senzel. Senzel scored the second run as well after rounding the bases from first on a double into right field by designated hitter Hernan Iribarren to give the Bats a 9-4 lead.
The Bulls added two more runs on a two-run home run by Brandon Snyder in the seventh before the final weather delay caused the game to be called in the eighth.
The Bats and Bulls will meet in the series rubber match on Thursday evening 7:00 p.m. Jose Lopez (3-6, 3.84) is scheduled to makes the start for the Bats against the Bulls’ Forrest Snow (3-4, 3.88). Louisville will try claim its second consecutive series for the first time during the 2018 campaign.