Norfolk plated three seventh inning runs to rally past the Durham Bulls 3-1 Thursday night at Harbor Park.
The Tides trailed 1-0 and had mustered just one hit through the first six innings against Bulls’ starter Matt Torra (12-7) before breaking through in the decisive seventh frame. Ronny Paulino led off the inning with a single to left and moved to third on a one-out double by L.J. Hoes, chasing Torra from the contest. Steve Tolleson followed with a sacrifice fly off of Frank de los Santos to knot the score at 1-1, and Luis Exposito gave the Tides a lead one batter later with a single up the middle. Bill Hall then belted a pinch-hit double to right-center field, extending Norfolk’s advantage to 3-1.
Oscar Villarreal and Zach Phillips made the lead stand up, as the duo worked two shutout innings of relief. Phillips worked a perfect ninth inning to register his seventh save of the season.
The late rally made a winner of Jason Berken (5-6), who allowed one run while scattering seven hits over seven innings of work. Berken struck out four without walking a batter, and he retired each of the final nine batters he faced. The only damage the Bulls could muster was a 4th-inning RBI single by William & Mary product Will Rhymes.
With the win, Norfolk (71-69) swept the three-game series from Durham and moved to two games over .500 with four games remaining. The Tides yielded just one run in 23 innings during the rain-shortened series.
The Tides will welcome the Gwinnett Braves to town Friday night for the final four-game set of the season. Zach Clark (4-2, 2.17) will take the mound for Norfolk against left-hander Yohan Flande (6-10, 4.33), with first pitch set for 7:15.