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Published: Sunday, 8/17/2003

Bats' Belisle bewitches Mud Hens

SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

LOUISVILLE - Matt Belisle, the newest Louisville Bat, only knows the first name of a couple of his new teammates.

But there's no doubt his teammates know him, especially after shutting down the Toledo Mud Hens 2-0 last night at Louisville Slugger Field.

Making his debut on the same day he arrived in the clubhouse, Belisle belittled the Mud Hens. He allowed only six hits in 86 pitches over 72/3 innings. He induced two late-inning double plays and allowed only four balls to reach the outfield.

It was in stark contrast to the first time Belisle faced the Mud Hens. On July 28, Belisle lost his Triple-A debut pitching for Richmond. He allowed six hits and four earned runs in taking the loss in a 5-3 game at Fifth Third Field.

Todd Van Poppel and Carlos Almanzar got the last four Mud Hens in order. Almanzar picked up his 20th save.

Belisle, who came to the Cincinnati Reds in a trade that sent Kent Mercker to Atlanta, earned his second win in three International League decisions. He found out he was starting last night while en route to Louisville.

Though admitting he's still in a state of shock over the trade, it helped facing a familiar team, he said.

“I just knew they had some real quality hitters in the middle of the lineup, and they run,” Belisle said. “You can't get lackadaisical with the end either, because of the speedsters up top.”

Belisle overshadowed Pat Ahearne (4-4), who continued his string of effective pitching. At one point, he retired 10 straight Bats batters, but poor defense - including a throwing error by the pitcher - led to Ahearne's undoing.

After allowing a lead-off walk to designated hitter Calvin Pickering to start the second, Ahearne got Jim Chamblee to hit an easy grounder to shortstop Omar Infante. But Infante bobbled it momentarily, allowing Toledo to only get a force out at second.

Chamblee then stole second, and one out later scored on Mike Stefanski's double down the third-base line.

Thanks to the bobble, the Mud Hens didn't even make a throw to first on Chamblee's grounder. But Chamblee didn't see Infante's struggle. As soon as the ball hit the ground, he took off running.

The Bats also tallied an unearned run in the sixth when



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