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Published: Saturday, 4/8/2006

Mud Hens earn first victory

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Mud Hens pitcher Steve Green tries on his ring in a pregame
ceremony last night at Fifth Third Field. Mud Hens pitcher Steve Green tries on his ring in a pregame ceremony last night at Fifth Third Field.
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It wasn't exactly an offensive explosion.

But the Mud Hens were offensively efficient last night, parlaying four hits and four walks into three runs. And that was more than enough for the Toledo pitching staff in a 3-1 victory over Charlotte at Fifth Third Field.

Toledo starter Zach Miner allowed just one unearned run in four innings, while three relievers combined to allow just two base runners in the final five innings to give the Hens their first win of the season.

"Miner pitched well, and the guys in the bullpen have thrown strikes and gone after guys," Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said. "They're making some pitches when they have to. I'm really feeling good right now about the way the bullpen has pitched in these first two games."

Charlotte scored its only run in the first inning. Leadoff man Jerry Owens reached on an error by shortstop Don Kelly, stole second, moved to third on a groundout by Andy Gonzalez and scored on a groundout by Ryan Sweeney.

That was all the Knights got off Miner, who stranded runners on third base in the first, third and fourth innings. Miner gave up four hits and three walks in four innings but also struck out four.

"I had a little jitters in my first game, and I made a few mistakes mentally and physically," Miner said about the base runners.

"I got out of [trouble], and I was happy with that, but I really would have liked to stay out there five [innings] and get a hand in the decision."

The Hens scored twice in the bottom of the first as Kevin Hooper led off with a single before being forced at second by Ryan Raburn.

Ryan Ludwick ran the count full against Charlotte starter Nik Lubisich, then golfed an inside cutter over the fence in left for his first home run of the season.

"I was looking out over the plate because [Lubisich] has that changeup that he throws outside that falls off the table down and away, and every pitch he threw was away," Ludwick said. "He threw that cutter in and I kind of reacted."

Miner said Ludwick's home run was especially important after the Mud Hens were shut out in Thursday's opener.

"Pitching with a lead and pitching from behind is totally different," Miner said.

"Pitching with a lead, even though it's only one run, you feel you don't have to be perfect. You can just go after guys."

Toledo added an insurance run in the fifth off Lubisich (0-1). David Espinosa led off with a double down the left-field line and moved to third on a sacrifice by Max St-Pierre.

Hooper drew a walk, then broke for second on a 3-2 pitch to Raburn. Raburn struck out, but Espinosa was able to score before Hooper was tagged out.

That was more than enough thanks to the Hens' bullpen. Alex Herrera (1-0) and Tony Fiore each threw two shutout innings and Mark Woodyard got the game's final three outs to record his first save.

And that's good, since Toledo batters struck out 11 times yesterday and advanced only one other runner past first base.

"We're not swinging the bats well right now, and at the end of spring training we were swinging pretty good," Parrish said. "We had some time off at the end of spring training, and we seem to be out of whack right now.

"And this time of year you're a little colder, and you're a little stiffer."

NOTES: Before the game the Mud Hens placed outfielder Nook Logan on the disabled list with a spiral break of the little finger on his right hand. Logan injured the finger in the first inning of Thursday's opener when Charlotte first baseman Casey Rogowski stepped on it while trying to catch an errant pickoff throw. The parent Tigers hope to replace Logan on the Toledo roster today. Charlotte manager Razor Shines was ejected by the replacement umpires yesterday for arguing balls and strikes in the ninth inning.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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