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Published: Sunday, 7/30/2006

Mud Hens power up late to knock off Louisville

BY JOSH COOK
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

LOUISVILLE - Through seven innings of baseball last night, the Toledo Mud Hens might as well have been on Gilligan's Island.

They had stranded 12 baserunners - almost double the seven castaways of the S.S. Minnow - and trailed the Louisville Bats 4-2.

But then the Mud Hens' ship came in. A pair of home runs - a two-run shot by Alexis Gomez in the eighth and a solo one from Ryan Ludwick in the ninth - gave Toledo a 5-4 victory before a sellout crowd of 13,131 at Louisville Slugger Field.

And with the Mud Hens' 19th come-from-behind win of 2006, their second victory in as many days after they had lost 11 of their previous 14 prior to that, came hope that their season may not be lost at sea after all.

"Lately we haven't been playing the best ball, but we had a big win [Friday] night," Ludwick said. "There's no doubt in my mind this team is talented enough to get back in this thing ... there's just a little more pressure now."

With the victory, defending Toledo (56-52) moved within a game and a half of Louisville (57-50) for second place in the International League West.

But it didn't look good early on for Toledo, which left the bases loaded in the first, sixth, and seventh innings.

"We couldn't get a hit for a while, but we finally punched through. We're a long-ball, strikeout club, we're sort of feast or famine," said Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish, whose team added to its IL leads in both categories last night.

Louisville built a quick 3-0 lead, scoring two runs in the first and adding another in the third.

Toledo stranded six runners in the first four innings before finally breaking through with two in the sixth after Louisville starter Mike Gosling loaded the bases with three walks before exiting. Maxim St-Pierre then greeted reliever Mike Burns with a sacrifice fly to center field to score Toledo's first run and Ramon Santiago followed with an RBI single to make it 3-2.

Toledo tied the game in the eighth when Santiago led off with a double and Gomez homered. That set up Ludwick's heroics as he hit a fastball from Carlos Alvarado.



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