Durham was ever so close to winning the title on Thursday in Game 4. The Bulls were one strike away from closing out a 2-1 victory in the ninth inning with left-hander Adam Liberatore on the mound. But Rusney Castillo, the Red Sox's newly signed Cuban outfielder, came back from being down 0-2 in the count to hit an RBI single and extend the game. Pawtucket went on to win, 4-2, in 13 innings.
Now, Durham will have to regroup as it attempts to defeat Pawtucket for the second straight year for the Governors' Cup. The Bulls will turn to right-hander Merrill Kelly, who is slated to make his first start of the playoffs after appearing in three games as a reliever. Right-hander Keith Couch is set to make his Triple-A debut after spending most of the season with Double-A Portland.
In the South Atlantic League, it was Asheville that had a chance to close out the championship Friday. The Tourists scored three runs in the third to take an early lead, but the Suns scored the final six runs to win, 6-3, and force Game 5.
Hagerstown is hoping to avoid the fate it experienced in last year's finals, when it lost in four games to Savannah. This year's Suns are led by second baseman Wilmer Difo, this year's South Atlantic League MVP. The Nationals' No. 20 prospect is hitting .462/.500/.808 with two home runs and three doubles in six playoff games.
The Suns are attempting to become the second Nationals affiliate to win its league championship this season. Earlier this week, Class A Advanced Potomac defeated Myrtle Beach in the Carolina League championship series.
Led by outfielder David Dahl, ranked No. 41 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list, Asheville is hoping to win its second South Atlantic League title in three years. Dahl, the Rockies' No. 3 prospect, is hitting .400/.464/.800 with two home runs and six runs in six playoff games.
Asheville could be one of two Rockies affiliates to win a championship Saturday. Double-A Tulsa defeated Midland, 5-2, on Friday in Game 3 of the Texas League Championship series. The Drillers lead the best-of-five series, 2-1, and are looking for their first title since 1998. Game 4 begins at 8 p.m. and can be seen on MiLB.TV.
Top prospect probables:
Nick Pivetta (Nationals' No. 19), Hagerstown vs. Asheville
Vincent Velasquez (Astros' No. 8), Lancaster vs. Visalia