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Published: Wednesday, 8/20/2003

Van Hekken sharp as Mud Hens top Indianapolis


INDIANAPOLIS - The Mud Hens limped into the finale of their series at Indianapolis hobbled by an anemic offense and six straight losses.

They came out with considerably more spring in their step after posting a 3-1 win in front of 5,747 at Victory Field last night.

Toledo start-er Andy Van Hekken yielded only a single run in his first start since returning from Double-A Erie yesterday.

“I thought he threw the ball real well,” said pitching coach Jeff Jones. “He got in a little trouble when he got behind in the count.

“I'd like to see him work ahead a little more.”

“I've just been trying to work on keeping the ball down,” Van Hekken said. “That was my biggest problem this spring.”

Van Hekken spent most of the first two months of the season with Toledo, but was sent down to Erie on June 7. After being reassigned to Toledo for four days in August, he was sent back to Erie on Aug. 8. In his last start for Toledo on Aug. 4, the 6-3 southpaw gave up three runs on nine hits with no decision.

Last night he again gave up nine hits but got out of trouble effectively, escaping damage in all but one inning.

“In the bullpen Jones and I have been working on my leg kick a little bit to try and get a little more velocity,” Van Hekken said.

For the third straight game the Hens got an early lead.

In the fourth inning Andres Torres led off with a single up the middle. Cody Ross continued his torrid hitting with a double that one-hopped the wall in center. Then Ernie Young clobbered a towering home run to left center for a 3-0 lead.

Although Ross didn't homer as he did in the three previous games, he had the double.

Over the last 33 games, Ross has collected 46 hits, including eight homers and 13 doubles to post a batting average of .353.

Van Hekken was giving up base hits, but scattering them enough to avoid trouble. In three of the first four innings, the Indians left two runners on base.

The Hens wasted a prime scoring opportunity of their own in the sixth.

Patrick Lennon took a pitch off the foot with one out, and Young followed with a walk.

Brant Ust singled to left to load the bases, but Kevin Jordan and Gene Kingsale followed with pop-ups to the first baseman to end the threat.

The Indians finally touched up Van Hekken in the sixth. With one out the left-hander gave up consecutive singles and then a high double off the right field wall by Doug Jennings to score one run.

After Van Hekken left with two out in the sixth, the Hens' bullpen took over and held the Indians scoreless the rest of the way.

Fernando Rodney pitched a scoreless ninth for his 23rd save.

The Hens return to Fifth Third Field to begin a four game homestand tonight at 7. Toledo will send Gary Knotts (4-3, 4.50 ERA) to the mound to face the Louisville Bats' Todd Van Poppel (3-2, 2.92).

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