The Mud Hens' scoring drought was reaching dramatic lengths. No better way to end it than with some theatrics.
Ryan Ludwick hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning yesterday at Fifth Third field, giving Toledo a 1-0 victory over Buffalo.
"You always dream of a walk-off, it's a fun part of being a hitter and playing baseball," Ludwick said. "I feel very fortunate."
The win snapped a four-game losing streak and a 24-inning stretch without a run for the Hens. It was the Hens' first walk-off of the year and the first of Ludwick's career. He hit the second pitch of the inning off Andrew Brown over the left-field fence.
"It was a great ending, and it was a long time coming," Hens manager Larry Parrish said. "We're obviously having trouble scoring right now. But our pitching was outstanding all day."
Three Hens pitchers combined to give up six hits in the shutout. Mark Woodyard got his first win of the year, pitching the final two innings and striking out three. The Hens improved to 21-24.
Both sides indeed featured tremendous pitching in front of the "school day" crowd of 10,477. Bisons starter Jeremy Sowers, the Cleveland Indians' first-round draft pick from 2004, threw eight innings and gave up three hits. Buffalo (25-23) allowed Hens batters just five hits.
"[Sowers] is consistent, he's got great control," Ludwick said. "He's really composed."
In his third start for the Hens, Jordan Tata pitched six-plus innings, giving up six hits with four strikeouts.
"He kept us in the ball game and we were able to get it done in the late innings," Ludwick said.
Tata left the seventh with runners on second and third and no outs, but reliever Chris Spurling came in to retire the side without a run scoring.
Spurling got Jason Cooper to ground out to first, with first baseman Josh Phelps looking back Jason Dubois before tossing the ball to Spurling for the out. He intentionally walked Ramon Vazquez and got catcher Einar Diaz, the ninth-place hitter, to hit into a double play to shortstop Don Kelly.
"[Spurling] is a big-league pitcher," Tata said. "He's come in countless situations like that. He's a guy you want to come in.
"I guess I'm going to have to take him out to dinner now."
Said Parrish: "To get out of that inning, that was a masterful job."
The only scoring threat from either team in the eighth and ninth innings was Kelly's two-out double in the ninth. Then Ludwick hit his eighth home run of the season. He pumped his fist as he rounded first, and after he crossed home plate, catcher Brian Peterson covered him with shaving cream.
"As soon as he made contact, you go, that's the ball game right there," Parrish said.
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