SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Win them pretty or win them ugly. Who cares so long as the Toledo Mud Hens keep on winning.
Last night, one day after riding a spectacular pitching performance by Nate Cornejo to victory, the Hens scratched out a highly flawed but nonetheless successful 7-5 effort against the Syracuse SkyChiefs.
How ugly was it?
“It was like the twilight zone,” said Toledo manager Bruce Fields. “It was really weird.”
Weird to the tune of four Toledo errors, which accounted for three SkyChief runs. Weirder still that the Hens managed to score the tying run on a passed ball, and the eventual game-winner on a wild pitch, both in the eighth inning.
“I'd rather play bad and win than play good and lose any day of the week,” said Jarrod Patterson, who knotted the game at 4 when he dashed in on a passed ball charged to Syracuse catcher Joe Lawrence. “A win's a win in the book, so we're happy to get it.”
The bizarre wrap-up ran counter to the early innings, when both starting pitchers were sharp. Toledo was limited to just one hit by SkyChiefs starter Scott Cassidy through the first five innings - Chris Wakeland's solo homer in the first.
Wakeland teed off on a 2-1 fastball and drove it over the fence in right center. It was his 16th round-tripper of the season, tops among the Hens. Wakeland became the only other baserunner for the Hens in those five innings when he was grazed by Cassidy in the fourth. But he was quickly erased when Lyle Mouton bounced into a double play.
Toledo's Adam Bernero was just as effective. Bernero scattered four hits and one unearned run over the same span. It came in the second after Vernon Wells opened with a walk, moved to second on an infield error and eventually scored on Cole Liniak's groundout.
There was one scary moment in the bottom of the fifth, when Bernero took Wells' lead-off comebacker off his leg. But he was able to continue without any apparent difficulty. He did not, however, survive the sixth inning, after Syracuse took advantage of one walk and two more errors to score for a 4-1 lead.
Toledo chased Cassidy in the top of the seventh, pulling back to within a run after Wakeland, Brian Rios and Carlos Mendez all doubled.
The Hens then battled back to take the lead an inning later. After Patterson tied it, Wakeland made it 5-4, scoring from third when Syracuse reliever Brian Bowes uncorked a wild pitch.
Kris Keller (4-1), the first of three Toledo relievers, earned the win. Matt Perisho picked up his ninth save.