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Bisons split two against Durham, looking for more

If the Buffalo Bisons hope to establish themselves as contenders in this year’s race to the playoffs, then they need to show they can hang with the big boys.

One of those big boys are the Durham Bulls, a perennial International League powerhouse and contender, and once again the Bulls find themselves at the top of the league standings.

The Bisons are in the middle of a four game set with Durham this week at Coca Cola Field, the Bulls’ only appearance in Buffalo this season. These last two nights, the Herd has split the games, winning the first one 8-5, then faltering last night 9-2. With the chilly night time temperatures, the crowds were sparse at both contests.

On Tuesday, it was the Mike Hessman show at the ballpark. Hessman launched two home runs in the game, the second clearing the netting and falling on to Oak Street. “This guy Hessman, he’s just amazing,” beamed Manager Ken Oberkfell. Long time Bisons watchers are already comparing Hessman to former Bisons Jeff Manto and Russell Branyan, who could always create excitement at the plate. “I saw it many times on the other side of the plate for many years, so it’s so nice to see him here in a Bisons uniform doing it for us.”

Last night, it was the Bulls turn to go long ball. The league’s top offense hit three home runs, the first two coming off of Bisons starter Tobi Stoner, who only allowed three hits in five innings of work. Durham’s five insurance runs in the 8th and 9th innings sealed the Bisons’ fate. Oberkfell didn’t get to watch his team’s late meltdown. He was ejected in the 7th inning for arguing umpire’s calls.

Oberkfell said that the Bisons don’t use any different approach in preparing for the Durham Bulls as opposed to other teams. “No not really. They do have a very good team and a very good organization and they have some good veteran players. We just got to go out and play our game. They aren’t a better club than us. We are similar type teams. They have a bit more power but our pitching is about the same.”

The weather looks to improve come this weekend. “When the temperatures heart up hopefully our bats can heat up and then maybe we’ll get on a nice roll,” said Oberkfell.

It should be summerlike these next few days here in Buffalo, and the Bisons play two more against Durham, tonight and tomorrow at 6PM at the ballpark, with Fridaynightbash fireworks following the Friday game. The Louisville Bats come to town next, with games this weekend at 4PM Saturday and 1PM Sunday.