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Published: Monday, 4/25/2005

Frustrations of losing get 2 Hens thumbed

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

INDIANAPOLIS - The Mud Hens saw the frustrations of a lopsided loss to Indianapolis erupt into a pair of ejections in the bottom of the fifth inning yesterday.

Toledo had problems with the ball-and-strike calls of home plate umpire Danny Cricks early in the contest, but emotions reached a boiling point with two out and no one on base in the fifth. Hens starter Jason Grilli fell behind Indians clean-up hitter Graham Koonce 3-0, then got two strikes before walking Koonce on a close pitch that the Hens thought was a strike.

"Since he [Cricks] gave their pitcher a couple of borderline pitches early in the game, I thought it was our turn to get something," said Hens catcher Brandon Harper. "We had a little confrontation out there, and when the manager [Larry Parrish] went out there he let [Cricks] know he had to make the call when the pitch was a strike."

After Koonce walked, Jose Leon reached base on an infield single before Parrish went out to talk to Grilli. Parrish waited until Cricks arrived at the mound to end the conference.

As both Parrish and Cricks were walking away from the mound, the jawing continued until Cricks ejected Parrish.

Parrish said that he went to the mound to make sure Harper wasn't ejected from the game. He was quick to point out that Harper rarely argues about ball-and-strike calls during a contest, making him certain Cricks was wrong.

"My motor was revving because of the way we were playing," Parrish admitted. "But our guy made a pitch that should have struck a guy out."

Grilli faced one more batter, giving up an RBI single to Ryan Doumit, before pitching coach Jeff Jones pulled him from the contest. Before Grilli could reach the Hens' dugout, Cricks had ejected him, too.

"I didn't say anything vulgar to him; I got thrown out for saying, 'That's bad,'‚óŹ" Grilli said. "To me, that doesn't show backbone. I had kept my mouth shut because you have to respect the umpire; L.P. was arguing balls and strikes, and Harper was arguing balls and strikes.

"Walking off the field, I felt I put two pitches in the same spot and he called one a strike and one a ball."

GLASS CITY CONNECTION: Purdue football coach Joe Tiller was at yesterday's game to throw out the first pitch and lead the singing of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" in the seventh. The Toledo native and Rogers High grad spent time in the press box reminiscing about watching Toledo Sox games at Swayne Field in the 1950s.

THREE-DOT DATA: Curtis Granderson was hit on the hand by a pitch leading off the third inning and later was replaced by Alexis Gomez. Granderson's status is day-to-day. The nearby RCA Dome played host to a Star Wars convention this weekend. Imperial stormtroopers, Jedi knights and at least two people wearing Darth Vader's flowing robes were spotted around the Mud Hens' hotel over the weekend. Indians pitcher Bobby Bradley hit three consecutive Hen batters, but none scored.



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