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Published: Friday, 7/23/2004

Good riddance: Syracuse torments Hens but season series is over

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Here's the best news from the Mud Hens' 11-5 loss to Syracuse last night: the contest marked the last time the two teams will meet this season.

Toledo's loss yesterday, its fourth in the last five games, also was the Hens' sixth loss in eight games against the SkyChiefs this season. Syracuse has a 37-54 record against the rest of the International League.

But the SkyChiefs looked like anything but the team with the IL's worst record in the four-game set that just ended.

They pounded out 41 hits against the Mud Hens, reaching double digits in each of their three wins, and finished with a .295 season batting average against the Hens.

What's more, last night they made a pair of comebacks to beat the Hens for the third time in four games.

The first of those comebacks came after Toledo had jumped on Syracuse starter Josue Matos for three runs in the first inning. Eric Owens led off with an infield single, then moved to third when Warren Morris doubled off the wall in deep left-center before Joe Vitiello drew a walk that loaded the bases.

Greg Norton flied out, but

Chad Alexander's fly to center was deep enough to allow Owens to score, and a wild throw home by Gabe Gross allowed the runners to move up a base. That error proved costly when Danny Klassen hit a two-out, two-run single to center.

The SkyChiefs' rallied for two runs in the third. Anthony Sanders singled, then was running and reached second when Guillermo Quiroz grounded out. Toledo starter Pat Ahearne walked the ninth batter, Jorge Sequea, to put runners on first and second with one out.

Russ Adams' single plated Sanders on a close play at home, and Julian Matos singled to reload the bases. Gross then hit a hard grounder to first that Norton bobbled, allowing him to retire only Gross at first and giving Sequea the opportunity to come home. Ahearne avoided further trouble by getting Glenn Williams on a fly ball to left.

But Syracuse scored twice more in the fourth inning to take the lead. Ahearne walked leadoff batter Howie Clark, then gave up a single by Simon Pond. Sanders lined an 0-2 pitch over Rayner Bautista at third for a single that scored Clark with the tying run and moved Pond to second.

Quiroz grounded into a double play, but Sequea slammed a triple to right-center to bring home Pond with the go-ahead run.

That lead lasted until the bottom of the fifth, when the Hens scored two runs to reclaim the lead. Bautista led off with a single to left, and Josue Matos mishandled a sacrifice bunt by Guillermo Rodriguez to put runners on first and second with none out.

Both runners moved up on a wild pitch, and Bautista came home on a groundout by Owens. With the infield in, Rodriguez was forced to stay at third on Morris' grounder to second, and Josue Matos intentionally walked Vitiello after falling behind 2-0.

Norton followed with a line single to right that scored Rodriguez with the go-ahead run.

That lead didn't even survive the top of the sixth, though, as Syracuse answered with four runs that knocked Ahearne out of the game.

Syracuse added three runs in the eighth off reliever Craig Dingman, who was pitching for the first time since July 4.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.


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