Last night Brant Ust received a baseball rarity: a second chance.
Last night the Mud Hens received an August rarity: a crucial mistake by the opponent.
And both Ust and the Hens took advantage when Ust delivered a game-winning single in the bottom of the 10th. Ust's hit gave Toledo a 4-3 victory over Indianapolis at Fifth Third Field.
The victory was just the second in the last nine games for the Mud Hens, who won for just the fourth time in 21 August contests.
"Yeah, you do [think about having a second chance]," Ust said. "When things work out, and you look up and you see yourself with another chance, you realize you don't get many second chances.
"I got a second chance, and it worked out."
Ust's second chance came when, with one out, Warren Morris and Benji Gil grounded back-to-back singles to right off Indians reliever Todd Erdos. Andy Barkett struck out, but Ust followed by lining a 3-0 pitch off the wall in right to send Morris home from second.
That hit helped Ust redeem himself after his first chance, which came with the score tied at 3-3 in the bottom of the eighth, runners on first and second with one out. In that at-bat Ust rolled a grounder to shortstop that Indianapolis turned into an inning-ending double play.
Indianapolis baserunner Ryan Knox slides safely under the tag of Hens second baseman Warren Morris during the fourth inning.
"[Ust] had been in that situation [before] when he batted in the eighth, but when he got a second chance he came through," Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said.
The Hens' big break came in the bottom of the seventh and helped score the two runs that tied the contest. Jorge Toca started the inning by lofting a high fly ball to deep center; Indians center fielder Dave Krynzel ran to a spot in an attempt to catch the ball, but it fell roughly 15 feet away from him for a double.
"We hit that ball at the perfect time," Parrish said. "It was at twilight, where it hadn't gotten dark yet. The ball just went up, and it disappeared. It happened at the right time. But then we took advantage of it, too."
Greg Norton quickly doubled home Toca, then moved to third on a sacrifice by Chad Alexander. Mike DiFelice drove in Norton with the tying run on a sacrifice fly.
The Hens had led the game early thanks to a second-inning run off Indianapolis starter Matt Childers.
Ust opened that half-inning with a double to the wall in right-center, moved to third on a groundout by Toca, then scored on a sacrifice fly to deep right by Norton.
But the Indians tied the score with a run in the top of the third off Toledo starter Andy Van Hekken.
Steve Scarborough worked the Hens lefty for a one-out walk, then moved to second on a sacrifice by Krynzel. Matt Erickson followed by lining a two-out RBI double into the left-field corner.
Indianapolis took the lead with a pair of fourth-inning runs. Jeff Liefer led off with a single, stole second, then scored when Chris Coste doubled to left-center.
Coste moved to third on a hit-and-run groundout by Jon Nunnally, then came home when Ryan Knox lined a 1-2 pitch to left for a single.
After the hit by Knox, Van Hekken and the Toledo bullpen did not allow another hit, giving up just three walks over the remaining six innings.
"We picked a guy off first when we had walked a guy [in the eighth], then [Mike] DiFelice threw the next guy out at second [in the ninth]," Parrish said.
"To me, those were two big plays."
NOTES: With last night's crowd of 6,740 the Mud Hens passed the 500,000 mark in season attendance for the third straight season - and only the third time in the city's professional baseball history. The Hens have attracted a total of 502,531 fans in 66 dates at Fifth Third Field this year.
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