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Published: Friday, 7/25/2003

Inge HR key blow as Mud Hens win 3rd straight

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Nothing could stop the Mud Hen offense last night.

Yes, you read right.

The Toledo offense, left for dead a few weeks back, powered the Hens to an 8-4 victory over Pawtucket at Fifth Third Field last night.

The Hens scored four times in the third to post an early lead. Then, when the Red Sox scored four unearned runs in the very next inning, Toledo scored single runs in four of the next five frames to win for the third straight night.

What's more, the win over the PawSox gave Toledo its first series win since the Hens took four of five in Richmond June 24-26.

Cather Brandon Inge connects for a home run - a three-run-shot in the Hens' four-run third inning. Cather Brandon Inge connects for a home run - a three-run-shot in the Hens' four-run third inning.
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“[Roving hitting instructor] Tom Runnells came in after the game and said, `There were a few things we can do better, but otherwise that wasn't too bad,'” said Hens manager Larry Parrish. “I said, `This looks like the 1927 Yankees to us.'”

The Hens, who came into the game ranked last in the 14-team International League in team batting average, used three hits and a Pawtucket error for their four-run, third-inning outburst.

Brandon Inge's three-run homer was the key hit in that rally.

But it looked as if any momentum the Hens would take from that explosion was blunted when Pawtucket scored four times in the fourth. And that comeback was a painful one for the Hens as Toledo starter Gary Knotts issued back-to-back, two-out walks to get it started, and shortstop Omar Infante made an error on an easy grounder to load the bases.

The bases were cleared by an Anton French triple, and a run-scoring safety squeeze by Adrian Brown tied the game.

All four runs were unearned, but Parrish was disappointed in the way his team allowed the PawSox to get back into the game.

“I thought Gary threw pretty well overall, but in that inning he walked those two guys,” Parrish said. “Then after an error, sometimes you have to pick up your defense, and we just didn't do that.”

Inge liked the way his teammates got back up off the canvas in their next at-bat.

“After that rally I noticed that Gary was a little down in the dugout,” Inge said. “I told him, `It's baseball. Things are going to happen like that. Just keep your head in the game.' Then Omar got a hit to drive in a run and redeem himself.”

Infante's opportunity came in the fourth, when he stepped to the plate with two outs and Gene Kingsale on second after a double. Infante ripped a liner off the glove of Pawtucket's Earl Snyder at third, allowing Kingsale to score what proved to be the winning run.

“I like how we went right back out there and retook the lead,” Parrish said. “Recently that's a situation where we might not have scored another run. But the last few nights we've swung the bats as well as we have in a long time.”

The Hens added to their cushion with single runs in the fifth, sixth and eighth. Ernie Young's RBI groundout scored Cody Ross in the fifth. A bloop single by Kevin Jordan brought home Infante in the sixth.

Brant Ust hammered a home run to right in the eighth to close the scoring.

And that was more than enough for Knotts, who allowed just eight hits in his seven innings to improve his Toledo record to 2-2. Terry Pearson pitched a pair of scoreless innings in his first Toledo appearance since his recall from Double-A Erie earlier this week to earn the save.

“We've had some good starting pitching lately, but we had good starting pitching in Syracuse, too,” Parrish said. “If we had swung the bats like this, we would have won all four games there.”

NOTES: Last night's crowd of 7,518 raised this year's attendance to 343,960. That is the second-largest single-season total in Toledo's professional baseball history, passing the 343,614 total of 1953. The single-season record is last year's 547,204.



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