Norfolk Tides 7, Durham Bulls (Rays) 0
Did anyone hear the news from last night? No, not THAT news. Nope, not this news either. The Orioles clinched the AL East title, and the organization committed to playing 30 more years at Camden Yards, but another group of players found an additional reason to celebrate.
The Norfolk Tides, Baltimore’s Triple-A affiliate, defeated the Durham Bulls, 7-0, to secure the International League Championship.
The Tides seized control right away. Jackson Holliday led off the bottom of the first with a walk, and Colton Cowser followed with a one-out double. Coby Mayo launched a deep fly to right for a ground-rule double and an early two-run advantage. Mayo originally believed the ball cleared the fence on the fly, but the third baseman eventually settled for the extra-base hit and two RBIs.
After much ado, @cobymayox is awarded a two-run automatic double to break the scoring open in the International League Championship!— Norfolk Tides (@NorfolkTides) September 28, 2023
He later scored, with the Tides leading 3-0 after one!#RisingTide pic.twitter.com/qORQANpLKr
Kyle Stowers worked the second walk of the inning, both runners advanced on a wild pitch, and Joey Ortiz plated the third run with a fielder’s choice.
Mayo kicked off the third with a single, advanced to second when Kyle Stowers walked, and stopped at third after a singly by Joey Ortiz. Josh Lester struck out with the bases loaded, but Lewin Díaz punched a single right up the middle for a 4-0 lead.
Norfolk tacked on three insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. Holliday launched a solo homer over the right field fence to extend the lead to five.
Coby Mayo, not satisfied with a three-hit night, capped the evening with a two-run homer. Mayo sent a ball the other way that just snuck its way into the bullpen. Mayo finished 4-for-4 on the night with four RBIs and three runs scored.
The Tides cruised to victory thanks to a dominant performance on the mound. Cade Povich started and tossed four scoreless innings. Povich allowed three hits, walked three, and struck out four.
Kyle Dowdy, a minor-league free agent, followed with three hitless innings. Dowdy walked a pair and struck out two. Wandisson Charles pitched a scoreless eighth, and Nick Vespi closed things out with a scoreless ninth. The Tides allowed only three hits all game.
The Orioles success may have come as a surprise at the big league level, but the organization entered the season with the top farm system in baseball. Several talented prospects shined at Norfolk throughout the season, and the Tides made things official with a decisive game three victory.
There’s certainly something to be said about establishing a winning culture. Jackson Holliday, Colton Cowser, Coby Mayo, Connor Norby and Joey Ortiz are all expected to play a significant role for this team in the future. There’s been plenty made about guys like Anthony Santander, Cedric Mullins, and Austin Hays surviving the dark years in Baltimore, and rightfully so, but this young core already knows about winning baseball.