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Published: Monday, 4/24/2006

Ludwick's big day lifts Mud Hens over Clippers

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Mud Hens second baseman Ryan Raburn awaits the throw as Danny Garcia of Columbus slides into the base in yesterday's game. Garcia was safe. The Hens improved to 8-10. Mud Hens second baseman Ryan Raburn awaits the throw as Danny Garcia of Columbus slides into the base in yesterday's game. Garcia was safe. The Hens improved to 8-10.
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Of Ryan Ludwick's two RBIs yesterday, the first was easily more impressive.

Ludwick's first-inning, lofty home run off the video board in left field looked as if it could have landed on the doorstep of the Commodore Perry apartments.

But to Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish, Ludwick's second RBI was not only more valuable, but it demonstrated Ludwick's baseball smarts.

Ludwick smacked a curveball up the middle for a single in the seventh inning to drive in what would ultimately be the deciding run in the Hens' 4-3 victory over Columbus at Fifth Third Field yesterday.

The home-run pitch Clippers starter Jeff Karstens threw Ludwick was a fastball, and Ludwick saw just one fastball the rest of the game. He struck out and grounded out on sliders in his next at-bats, and he came up in the seventh with two outs, Max St-Pierre on third, and the Hens leading 3-1.

"Finally I made the adjustment that last at-bat, they threw another slider, and I stayed on it," Ludwick said.

Said Parrish: "It's a pitch that has been giving him trouble, and giving us trouble. That was a big RBI."

The Clippers (6-12) scored two runs in the top of the eighth, but Corey Hamman pitched out of a bases-loaded situation to hold the lead for the Hens (8-10).

"Our pitching has kept us in the ball game, can't complain about that," Ludwick said. "We want to get out to leads early and let people like [Chad] Durbin do what he did today - keep us in the ball game, stay ahead."

Durbin, the Hens' starter, got his first win after three no-decisions. In six innings of four-hit ball, he had his share of clutch plays.

In the third inning, the Clippers had players on first and second base with nobody out, and Durbin got consecutive strikeouts and forced a pop-out. In the fifth, Clippers designated hitter Carlos Pena got to third base with one out on a walk and a wild pitch, and Durbin got out of the inning unscathed.

"He battled out there today," Parrish said. "He made some pitches when he had to."

Ludwick's home run tied the game after the Clippers got a run in the first.

Left fielder Kevin Reese scored on a groundout after his leadoff double.

In front of 5,095 fans, David Espinosa gave the Hens the lead in the third with a two-run homer to right field that scored St-Pierre.

Lee Gardner pitched a perfect ninth inning to get his third save of the year. Parrish said he was happy to see Gardner getting over his back pain, but he expressed concern about Hamman walking home a run in the eighth.

"We're doing some things right, no doubt, but I still see where we can do a lot better," Parrish said.

The Hens continue to play International League West opponents, facing Louisville tonight in the first of two games and Indianapolis on Wednesday and Thursday.

"We've got two more division foes this week, so this next four are just as big as the last two," Ludwick said.

Contact Maureen Fulton at: mfulton@theblade.com or 419-724-6160.



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