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Published: Tuesday, 7/25/2006

Mud Hens get in way too deep

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
It was not a good night for Hens pitchers. Lance Davis, for instance, walked a batter to get to Kevin Witt for a lefty-lefty matchup - and Witt smacked a three-run homer. It was not a good night for Hens pitchers. Lance Davis, for instance, walked a batter to get to Kevin Witt for a lefty-lefty matchup - and Witt smacked a three-run homer.
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The Mud Hens had more than a hole to climb out of after the first inning of last night's game against Durham. They were stuck at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

On second thought, make that the Mariana Trench - the deepest place on earth.

The Hens trailed by four runs before they could even record an out. The Bulls added six more runs before Toledo took its first cuts at the plate.

It goes without saying that the Mud Hens never were able to escape this huge deficit, eventually dropping a 15-10 decision. In fact, despite losing for the third straight night to Durham - as well as for the ninth time in the last 11 contests - the fact that Toledo eventually matched the Bulls' first-inning run production might have been a bit of a moral victory.

"I was really proud of the way we battled the whole game," Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said. "We kept scoring runs, we kept getting guys on base. Even in the last inning we had a couple men on."

But there was no answer for the Bulls' marathon first inning, which lasted 25 minutes. The inning saw 13 Durham hitters come to the plate against emergency starter Steve Green, who stepped in when scheduled starter Humberto Sanchez complained of elbow tenderness, and reliever Lance Davis.

The details of that first-inning debacle? Not in a family newspaper, thank you.

Suffice it to say the Bulls pounded out eight hits, hit for the cycle and added an extra double and three more singles for good measure. Durham also benefited from a hit batsman, a walk and a sacrifice fly.

The 10 runs Durham scored were the most by one team in one inning at Fifth Third Field, while the 15 total runs were the most by two teams in one inning in the ballpark's five-year history. In fact, Durham's 10 runs were enough to tie the ballpark's two-team, one-inning run record.

The Hens' offense, which had posted a combined eight runs in the first three games of this series, did its best to keep things competitive. Toledo posted five runs in the first, with three of the runs coming on Dustan Mohr's third home run with the Hens.

And when former Mud Hen Kevin Witt slammed a three-run homer in the top of the third, the Hens got two of those runs back in the bottom of the frame.

"That shows you what kind of team we have, putting up a five-spot after they put up a 10-spot," Toledo third baseman Jack Hannahan said. "We didn't give up. But [there's no moral victory] because we lost the game."

Durham pushed its lead to 14-6 by scoring a run in the top of the sixth, but the Hens got that run back thanks to Mike Rabelo's RBI single in the seventh.

The Bulls again stretched their lead to a touchdown when Elijah Dukes led off the eighth with a long homer, his 10th of the season, but in the bottom of that frame Toledo loaded the bases with none out and eventually scored twice.

"Whenever you get down like that early in a game, you just try to chip away at it every inning," said Hannahan, who finished with a game-high four hits. "You try to score one, two, three runs and try to get back into it."

But how frustrating is it for an offense to pound out 10 runs on 15 hits - and lose by five runs?

"We're in one of those streaks where we can't match it up," Parrish said. "We swing the bats, those are the games we don't pitch well in. When we pitch well, those are the games we don't score many.

"We're having trouble turning that around."

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com or 419-724-6481.



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