Talk about clutch.
Talk about never-say-die.
Talk about all those things, and don't forget to mention the Mud Hens' 10-7 win over Syracuse at Skeldon Stadium last night, because this game was all those things and more.
Toledo trailed 5-1 entering the bottom of the eighth, carrying a tag of 0-43 in games in which it trailed after seven innings.
But with two out in the eighth, seven consecutive Hens reached base to turn that four-run deficit into a 7-5 Toledo lead.
Then when the SkyChiefs came back to tie the game with a pair of runs in the top of the ninth, Kurt Bierek slammed a game-ending three-run homer to give the Hens the win.
Funny thing was, Hens' manager Bruce Fields wasn't pleased with his team's performance. “That might have been one of the ugliest games I've ever been associated with,” Fields said of the contest, which included six Mud Hen errors. “We won in spite of ourselves.”
In the eighth SkyChiefs' starter Brandon Lyon, who had limited the Hens to just five hits and a single run over the first seven innings, got two outs sandwiched around a Jermaine Allensworth single. But Lyon never did get that third out.
Lyle Mouton singled Allensworth to third, and Bierek singled Allensworth home. After Chris Wakeland was hit by a pitch, Lyon was replaced by Matt DeWitt.
That didn't help, though, as Brian Rios singled home two runs, Rich Becker brought home the tying run with a single and David Lindstrom lined a ground-rule double to left that brought home the go-ahead runs.
Syracuse came back with a pair of runs in the top of the ninth to tie, but that merely set the stage for Bierek's heroics. With one out Giomar Guevara singled off Mark Hendrickson and Mouton reached on an error before Bierek launched the first pitch from Hendrickson over the right-field fence.
“Honestly, I haven't been coming through in that situation recently, so I really, really, wanted to come through,” Bierek said of his game-ending hit. “I wanted to get ready early, because I knew I didn't even need a hit, I just needed to put the ball in the outfield.”
The result was a homer that gave the Hens just their third win in the last 10 games but still didn't satisfy Fields completely.
“I'm happy we won, don't get me wrong, but I didn't like the way we played,” he said. “For seven innings we had no energy, no life, and we seemed to feel sorry for ourselves.
“Rallies like that aren't going to happen all the time - we're fortunate that it happened in this game.”
Tonight the Hens will play their final game before the two-day All-Star Break when they play host to Syracuse at Skeldon Stadium. Adam Bernero (3-8) will start for Toledo against the SkyChiefs' John Dillinger (9-3) beginning at 7 p.m.
NOTES: Bierek made two errors in the game, his first errors of the season. Bierek had played error-free baseball in his first 65 games despite seeing action at first base, third base, left field and right field ... Before Toledo starter Victor Santos walked Brian Hunter in the sixth the Hens had not walked a Syracuse batter in the first 231/3 innings of the season.