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Published: Friday, 5/12/2006

Mud Hens climb over .500 mark

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Designated hitter Ryan Ludwick went 4-for-5 with a home run and double as the Mud Hens pounded out 18 hits. Designated hitter Ryan Ludwick went 4-for-5 with a home run and double as the Mud Hens pounded out 18 hits.
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After the Mud Hens' convincing win yesterday, manager Larry Parrish was happiest for hitting coach Leon "Bull" Durham.

"Bull's been working hard with these guys," Parrish said. "When you're squeaking out wins and a lot of opportunities don't cash in, as a coach you take it home with you. I'm sure Bull will sleep very well tonight."

The Hens, who came into the game ranked eighth in the International League in batting average and 13th in hits, pounded Norfolk 14-5 at Fifth Third Field. The 18-hit onslaught put the Hens over .500 (17-16) for the first time this season. They finished the homestand 5-2.

"We all know where we're at day to day," infielder Kevin Hooper said. "Any time you get ahead of that .500 mark that's an accom-plishment."

Ryan Ludwick had five RBIs, Alexis Gomez four and Ryan Raburn three. Ludwick and Raburn each had four hits and Gomez was a home run away from hitting for the cycle. Also, Josh Phelps had three hits and Hooper added two.

It seemed for most of the game that anything the Hens connected with either rolled past an infielder or landed in an open spot in the outfield.

"We continually put the ball in play," Hooper said. "Good things are going to happen when you do that, when you're aggressive."

The Hens knocked Tides pitcher Jason Scobie, a Toledo native, out of the game in the second inning, getting eight runs in the first two innings. The five runs the Hens scored in the second all came with two outs.

Norfolk got a run in the first inning but didn't score again until the seventh, after Toledo had taken a 10-1 lead. Chris Basak hit a two-run home run off right-hander Chad Durbin just before Durbin left the game. The Hens answered the Tides' three runs in that inning with four more in the bottom half.

In front of a sold-out "school day" crowd of 10,300, the Hens had a season-high nine extra-base hits, including Ludwick's three-run home run to center field in the seventh. Toledo leaves town today for a 10-game road trip to play Richmond, Norfolk, and Columbus.

"It's good to go out with a bang like that," Raburn said. "We want to go on the road and continue the way we've been swinging. To finish up swinging the bat like that will give us a big confidence boost."

Durbin pitched 61/3 innings and had five strikeouts to get the win, improving to 3-1.

All three pitchers who joined the Tides (10-24) on Wednesday saw action, and two of them, Jeriome Robertson and Chuck Smith, gave up a combined six runs in just 11/3 innings.

In the eighth inning, Tides catcher Zac Clements was called on to pitch. He had the most success of anyone, needing just six pitches to get out the side without giving up a hit.

Contact Maureen Fulton at:

mfulton@theblade.com

or 419-724-6160.



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