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June 10, 2003

Pride grand slam in 10th lifts Columbus past Bulls

From: Durham Herald Sun, NC - Jun 10, 2003

By MIKE POTTER : The Herald-Sun

If he keeps playing the way he did over the last four days in Durham, he might soon be The Pride of the Yankees.

Curtis Pride, who began this season at Nashua of the independent Atlantic League, went 4-for-6 with five RBIs including his first career pro grand slam in the 10th inning, giving the Clippers an 8-6 victory over the Bulls Tuesday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

The win gave the Clippers a split of the eight straight games they just finished with the Bulls, but it was all Columbus in Durham as the Clippers won three of four meetings.

The 34-year-old Pride, who has played for four different major-league clubs despite being almost totally deaf, was 0-for-5 in his team's lone loss on Monday night, but finished the four-game set with some ridiculous numbers: 10-for-20 (.500) with five doubles, eight RBIs, six runs scored and a stolen base to go with the slam.

"I think it was a splitter, and he [Lee Gardner, who fell to 0-5 with the loss] hung it," said Pride, a one-time player on the U.S. National youth soccer team whose basketball jersey is retired at William & Mary. "That's my first grand slam."

And quite a shot it was, as he lined Gardner's 0-1 pitch onto the hill in center.

"I was playing with the independent club and doing well, and then after Bernie Williams got hurt they picked me up," Pride said of Columbus' parent club, the New York Yankees. "I've just been staying back and looking for my pitch, and things have been going well for me."

Columbus manager Bucky Dent said he has been impressed with everything he has seen from his new center fielder.

"He came up huge for us tonight — real huge," Dent said. "He's been swinging the bat real well and doing a great job of getting on base for us at the top of the lineup."

Every Bulls run came via the home run as the hosts didn't leave a single runner on base.

George Lombard and Pete LaForest each hit a two-run homer, and Antonio Perez and Chris Truby chipped in solo shots.

"We got all our runs on home runs, and other than that we didn't do much of anything," Bulls and one-time Columbus skipper Bill Evers said. "Their starting pitcher [Brandon Claussen] was outstanding tonight. ... Eight games in a row between the same two teams is too many. Fortunately nothing happened between the clubs."

After Pride's shot, Bulls catcher Pete LaForest hit a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th off winning pitcher Randy Choate (2-2) to make things more interesting, but Colter Bean came on to get Jorge Cantu to pop up and get out of the jam.

Columbus took a 1-0 lead in the first as Craig Wilson hit a one-out double and later scored on Fernando Seguignol's fielder's-choice ball to third. The Clippers then added a three-spot in the fourth, with the key hit Pride's RBI double.

Claussen faced the minimum for the Clippers through the first 19 batters before the Bulls showed some life in the seventh. With one out, Perez lifted a 2-2 pitch over the Blue Monster wall in left center. Then with two out, Truby launched a 1-2 pitch high over the Snorting Bull down the left-field line to cut the lead to 4-2.

The Bulls tied the score in the ninth with another home run. With one out, Damian Rolls began the rally with a single to left that chased Claussen. After Willie Banks came on to strike out Perez, Choate came on to face Lombard in a lefty-lefty situation. Lombard responded by launching an 0-1 pitch high over the Diamond View seats in right.

"That's about the hardest I've ever hit a ball," Lombard said of his homer, which hit the building behind the concourse on one bounce. " ... Curtis Pride is just an amazing story. We played together in the Braves organization and he lives near me in Florida. We'll do a couple of charity events together in the off-season. I think everybody in baseball likes to see him do well."

Brooks Badeaux was recalled to the Bulls on Tuesday from his paper assignment to Hudson Valley of the New York-Penn League.

NOTES — Bulls catcher Jorge Fabregas got his 2002 Anaheim Angels World Series ring from Bulls general manager Mike Birling in a pregame ceremony. Also, pitcher Gerardo Garcia, who was the winning pitcher in the Governors' Cup-clinching game last September, got his International League championship ring. ... Tuesday's attendance was announced at 6,020, giving the Bulls 211,147 through 34 home openings. ... The Bulls will have today off, then open a four-game set against the Ottawa Lynx on Thursday night. Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer will make an appearance at the game.

© 2003 The Durham Herald Company