Bowling Green native Tracy homer dooms Mud Hens
JEREMY WADSWORTH Enlarge
It's only natural that Andy Tracy, a Bowling Green native who played at Bowling Green State University, heard some cheers when he stepped to the plate at Fifth Third Field yesterday.
But since Tracy is a member of the visiting Lehigh Valley IronPigs, he also heard a boo or two.
"Obviously there are some [University of] Toledo people that don't like me," Tracy said with a smile.
Tracy made the Mud Hens cry last night by slamming a three-run homer, the key blow in a four-run rally that gave the I-Pigs a 5-1 victory over the Hens.
Tracy leads Lehigh Valley with six home runs - the rest of the team has nine - as well as RBIs with 19. But his manager, Dave Huppert, said Tracy does more for the IronPigs than just drive in runs.
"He's almost like a captain for this team," Huppert said. "He takes care of the younger guys and he's a leader.
"But he's also a professional hitter. He's trying to put up some numbers to get back into the big leagues."
Tracy has consistently put up numbers in his 13-year career, which began when Montreal selected him in the 16th round of the 1996 draft. His career highs are 37 home runs and 128 RBIs with Double-A Harrisburg in 1999, but he has collected 20 homers or more in his last five full seasons.
He spent time in the majors with Montreal in both 2000 and '01 and also had 15 games with Colorado in 2004, but the Philadelphia organization is his fourth in as many years and the fifth organization overall.
"I don't keep track [of the teams] because that will make me feel a lot older," Tracy said with a smile.
His first at-bat last night came with the bases loaded and one out in the first inning. Toledo starter Yorman Bazardo won that battle, coaxing Tracy to hit into a rally-killing double play.
But Bazardo, who flirted with trouble in all five innings he worked, finally found trouble in the fifth. Leading 1-0 thanks to a second-inning home run by Jackson Melian, Bazardo walked the ninth hitter, Joey Hammond, and gave up a one-out single on a 2-0 pitch to Rich Thompson.
Bazardo got the second out, but then surrendered an RBI single to Mike Cervenak before Tracy crushed a 1-1 pitch well over the fence in right.
"It was a 1-1 changeup," Tracy said. "I just got the barrel to it and put it in play. I hit the first two balls hard and one of them turned into a double play, so I thought I had put a few good swings on the ball."
The I-Pigs, who entered the game ranked last in the 14-team International League in team batting average (.219) and runs scored (79), added an insurance run in the sixth on a home run by T.J. Bohn off Mud Hens reliever Casey Fossum.
But Lehigh Valley already had scored more than enough runs for starter Brian Mazone. The IronPigs have the worst record in professional baseball at 5-28, but four of those wins belong to Mazone.
Mazone allowed just five hits and three walks in 72/3 innings and, outside of Melian's homer, never allowed a Mud Hen past second base.
"He's beat us twice, and we've only scored one run off him in both games," Toledo manager Larry Parrish said. "He's not an overpowering guy or a guy with a big breaking ball. He just locates, moves the ball in and out. And we're always a little ahead of it, a little late on it. We can't square him up.
"I guess you would say he's pitching - and he's got our number."
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