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Published: Friday, 6/11/2004

Little things add up for Mud Hens

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Mud Hens pitcher Pat Ahearne makes a throw to first base. He allowed only one run and six hits in seven innings. Mud Hens pitcher Pat Ahearne makes a throw to first base. He allowed only one run and six hits in seven innings.
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Ignore the box score from the Mud Hens' 4-3 victory over Richmond at Fifth Third Field last night.

There were lots of little things that don't show up in the box that all added up to Toledo's second win in as many nights.

"We took a night where we didn't swing the bats well and turned it into a win by doing all the little things right," said Toledo manager Larry Parrish.

Two huge plays came on defense in the top of the ninth, with the Hens trying to close out the game while leading 4-2. The Braves got a two-out walk from Jason Tyner, then a single by Pete Orr that moved Tyner to second.

The next batter, Ryan Langerhans, lined the ball into the gap in left-center; while Tyner scored, Eric Owens, who moved to left as a defensive replacement in the top of the inning, cut the ball off to keep Orr at third.

"If Owens doesn't cut that ball off, the ball rolls to the wall and the tying run scores," Parrish said.

"I prefer to make a good defensive play to getting three hits that don't mean anything," Owens said. "I obviously want to hit and run and do the things I can do, but making that play in the ninth allows me to go home and sleep better."

And it set up another big play, this one by shortstop Danny Klassen. The next batter, Joe DePastino, hit a hard grounder to the hole; Klassen flagged down the ball, then threw from his knees to retire DePastino by a step and save the victory.

"That was an unbelievable play - that was a, 'Dah-dah-dah, dah-dah-dah' play," Parrish said, singing the theme from ESPN's SportsCenter. "That was do-or-die."

Those ninth-inning plays helped the Hens' eighth-inning rally stand up for the victory. The two-run eighth began when Marcus Thames and Joe Vitiello both drew walks off reliever Kevin Barry; Andy Barkett then lined an 0-2 pitch into the right-center gap for a double that scored Thames and sent Vitiello to third.

Toledo added an insurance run when Brant Ust received an intentional walk to load the bases and Rayner Bautista worked Barry for an unintentional walk to score Vitiello.

"It was scoring ugly, but we got a big hit when we needed it," Parrish said. "We had five strong at-bats there."

The rally was necessary after Richmond scored single runs in the seventh and eight to tie the game.

Toledo starter Pat Ahearne avoided trouble most of the night. Through the first six innings he didn't allow a runner past second thanks to 13-ground ball outs, including a pair of double plays.

But the right-hander finally surrendered a run in the seventh. Wilson Betemit led off with a double into the right-center gap, then moved to third on a sacrifice by Bryce Terveen. With the infield back, ninth batter Jorge Velandia hit a soft liner over Klassen's head for an RBI single.

Richmond tied the game in the top of the eighth off the Mud Hen bullpen. Langerhans singled up the middle off Jason Karnuth, then moved to second on a groundout by DePastino.

Eric Eckenstahler came on and got a groundout from Charles Thomas that moved Langerhans to third. Then Lee Evans muscled an inside pitch into left to scored Langerhans with the tying run.

"He threw very well tonight," Parrish said of Eckenstahler. "[Evans] hit the ball off his thumb-nails, a blooper into left. There's nothing you can do about that. He got a tough left-hander out [Thomas]; he was just unlucky."

NOTES: The start of the game was delayed 51 minutes by rain. .●.●. Before the game the Mud Hens sent pitcher Brian Schmack to Double-A Erie. No player was added to the Toledo roster, but pitcher Adrian Burnside is expected to come off the disabled list today

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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