The Alexandria Dukes lost 13 of 20 games during the regular season to the Durham Bulls. And Dukes pitcher Fernando Gonzales was 0-2 against the Bulls.
But last night, Gonzales pitched 7 2/3 innings, allowing six hits, and Lee Marcheskie finished up to lead the Dukes to a 5-2 win in the first game of the Carolina League championshp series at Four Mile Run Park. The second game of the best-of-five series is scheduled tonight at 7:30 on the same site.
Gonzales tired in the eighth and Manager John Lipon brought in Marcheskie with runners on first and second, a 3-2 count on Scott Hood and Alexandria leading, 5-1.
Marcheskie threw the fourth ball to Hood, then got Miguel Sosa to ground to shortstop. But Marvin Clack's throw was high for an error and the Bulls trailed, 5-2. Marcheskie wasn't discouraged, though, and got Bob Tumpane to ground to second, then retired the Bulls in order with two more grounders in the ninth.
"I just tried to throw another grounder after Sosa's," said Marcheskie, who was used mostly in long relief during the season. "I got my slider up a bit to Sosa and he hit some hard fouls. But after that, everything was down."
Gonzales walked six, struck out seven and threw 135 pitches, but wasn't in much trouble until the eighth.
"Danny's (Dukes pitching coach Warthen) been working with me on placing and moving the ball, up and down, in and out, so that's what I was thinking about tonight," said Gonzales, 13-8 in the regular season. "It also felt good to finally beat Durham."
For the second straight game, Alexandria took the early lead. Clack tripled to right-center, leading off the first. After Mike Quade flied to shallow center, Rick Renteria, the league batting champion (.330) and runs batted in leader (101), singled sharply to left, to score Clack. One out later, Pete Rowe blooped a single to right and when Tumpane misplayed the hit, Renteria scored.
Joe Orsulak's run-scoring ground out made it 3-0 in the third.