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Published: Sunday, 8/22/2004

Hens adjust, and beat the Bats

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Jorge Toca singles in the second inning, and later scores on a sacrifice fly by Guillermo Rodriguez. Toca had two hits. Jorge Toca singles in the second inning, and later scores on a sacrifice fly by Guillermo Rodriguez. Toca had two hits.
MORRISON / BLADE PHOTO Enlarge

Those who forget their past are destined to repeat it, right?

The Mud Hens certainly learned from the past last night, at times putting into play lessons learned only a few innings earlier in beating Louisville 3-1 in front of 10,300 fans at Fifth Third Field.

As a reward for learning from the past, Toledo earned a victory that snapped a six-game losing streak. Last night's win also was the team's second in its last 10 home games and was its third victory in 19 August games.

One of the lessons learned resulted in a sixth-inning run that gave the Hens the lead for good. That play came with Andy Barkett at second base with two outs and the score tied 1-1, and Jorge Toca singled to center.

On a similar play with two outs in the first inning, Barkett tried to slide around Bats catcher Corky Miller and blocked the plate and tagged Barkett out to prevent the run.

There would be no tricky slides the second time as Barkett plowed Miller at home at just about the same time as the ball arrived. Barkett then got up and touched the plate for the go-ahead run as the ball flew past Miller to the backstop.

"He decoyed me pretty good [the first time]," Barkett said of Miller. "He gave me the back side of the plate, then kicked his leg out and blocked the plate so I wasn't able to get there. If you don't learn from your mistakes you're not very smart, so when he did it again I made up my mind he wasn't going to be able to block the plate again."

That second run was more than enough for Toledo starter James Baldwin, who last Monday allowed seven earned runs in six innings to lose to the Bats. Last night he scattered seven hits in seven innings, allowing only a sixth-inning run. He also learned from the past.

"I guess they were out there looking for more breaking pitches than normal, because when I get behind in the count I have a tendency to throw breaking pitches," Baldwin said. "I just stayed with the fastball because I was able to spot it, and [last night] I was throwing more inside, making them move their feet and changing their eye level."

The Mud Hens scored the game's first run in the second inning when Guillermo Rodriguez hit a sacrifice fly that brought Toca home from third. The Bats scored their only run in the top of the sixth when Ray Olmedo tripled, then came home on a bloop single to right by Austin Kearns.

The Hens retook the lead in the bottom of the inning on Barkett's play at the plate, then added an insurance run in the seventh thanks to the "speed" of Rodriguez.

The Toledo catcher, who had only one stolen base before tonight and just 43 in his nine-year career, walked and stole second. He went to third on a fly to right by Alexander, then took off for home on the first pitch to the next batter, Rich Gomez.

Gomez took the pitch - which was supposed to be a safety squeeze - and Rodriguez was trapped half-way between home and third. But Miller's throw bounced off the glove of third baseman Brandon Larson for an error that allowed Rodriguez to score.

"We got a break when we messed up that bunt play, and it seemed as if we haven't had a break like that in three weeks," Barkett said. "Granted, we haven't been playing well. But we haven't had many breaks, either. That was a breath of fresh air."

The Hens will send right-hander Pat Ahearne (9-10) against the Bats' Brian Rose (1-2) today at 2 o'clock.

NOTES: Among those who threw out a first pitch last night was Audrey Daniels, a former pitcher in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League who also was a part of the movie A League of Their Own.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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