NEWTOWNBREDA, Northern Ireland – In an unusual twist at the Ulster Invitational Tournament, Durham came back from a 4-2 deficit in the final inning in a timed game to register its second draw of the weekend. The result eliminated the Black-and-Purple (7-2-2) thanks to a Dublin Spartans victory over Tonbridge.
Brad Jones was the starting pitcher for Durham and immediately got into a jam with a porous infield behind him. The first of the game reached on a throwing error and immediately stole second, staying their after a walk. Jones looked to have induced a twin killing with another bouncer to third, but the second error in the frame plated the game’s first run.
After an easy comebacker, Jones induced another bouncer that allowed a second run to score, but the lead runner ran through a sign at third and Jack Andrew, making his first appearance in the infield, rifled the ball home for the second out. The inning would end on another groundball to the mound.
The Palatinates got off to a good start in the bottom of the frame as Sam Ross stroked a line drive-single down the left field line and stolen second. T.J. Garske worked a base on balls to put two on for Jones, who had a pair of solo homers in the first game of the tournament, but an easy popup meant one down. Drew Graf would walk to load the bases, and Marcus Helland would get Durham on the scoreboard with a towering fly to deep centre. Glasgow’s starting hurler would buckle down to end the threat with the Scottish side still up, 2-1.
Neither side would score in the second, though Durham loaded the bases with two outs. Glasgow would plate another unearned run in the third after a two-out single was followed a by a fielding error at third. Another hit and miscue would tack on another run, though Jones got a big K to end the frame.
Durham matched the run in the bottom half of the inning on some plucky baserunning from Marcus Helland. The big first baseman worked a walk and stole second, advancing a base on a passed ball. Gabriel Fidler pinch hit and drew another free pass, stealing second, before Helland darted home on a throwing error by the catcher. A hit-by-pitch and a walk would load the bases, but Ross’ drive to centre hung up just long enough to be hauled in for the third out.
It was nothing doing in the fourth, and the tension mounted in the game’s final frame as Glasgow tacked on its fourth run despite Jones offering the tournament’s most knee-buckling curveballs. After a whiff to start the frame, Glasgow’s centrefielder squirted a ball down the third base line that no one could snag and swiped second and third around another Jones’ strikeout, his third of the game against the Scottish No. 7 hitter. A line drive would sneak through the hole on the left side to score the run, and after an out, Durham needed at least two runs in less than ten minutes to tie.
Fidler led off and tapped a ball to third, nearly beating the throw. Laurence Hodgkins pinch hit and stole second before Harry Winter followed with a single, with Hodgkins scoring on an error. Winter took second on the miscue and then swiped third, setting up James Moxon for the game-tying RBI on a groundball. With time expired but Durham playing as the home side, the game was called with two outs and the draw secured.
Jones earned the no decision with five strong innings, giving up one earned run on five hits and four walks, striking out six. The righthander was done in by five costly errors. Glasgow had two hurlers each toss 2 1/3 frames, each giving up two runs, though only one was earned. Durham worked nine walks and only struck out twice, but collected only three hits.
The Black-and-Purple will conclude their tournament play against bottom-of-the-table Tonbridge at 10:30 a.m.