The Mud Hens claimed their first walk-off win of the season last night. Literally.
Toledo got a bases-loaded walk from Jeff Larish that scored pinch-runner Ben Guez with the winning run in a 3-2 victory over Syracuse at Fifth Third Field.
But that run was just the final play in an inning full of decisions for Toledo manager Larry Parrish.
The wheels began turning in the top of the ninth when Seth Bynum drew a walk from Hens reliever Jay Sborz, who then wild pitched Bynum to reach second. Will Rhymes' diving stop on Chris Duncan's grounder up the middle proved important when it forced Bynum to stay at third, but it put runners on first and third with none out for the Chiefs.
"You've got the double steal that's possible, you've got a squeeze [bunt] that's possible - there are a lot of possibilities there," Parrish said. "We wanted to be aware of those things, and I let them know where I wanted them to throw the ball."
While Sborz struck out the batter, Devin Ivany, Duncan took off for second. The Hens failed to execute a rundown, allowing Duncan to reach second while Bynum stayed at third.
"[Second baseman] Danny [Worth] needed to run [Duncan] all the way back to first base," Parrish said. "He's either out or safe on that play; but when Danny threw to the first baseman early, it allowed them to try for home.
"Larish did a good job of throwing home, but [catcher Robinzon] Diaz didn't get a handle on the ball and Bynum got back to third."
With the double play gone, Parrish decided to walk Eric Bruntlett and have Sborz face Mike Morse with the bases loaded. Sborz got Morse to pop out, then coax Kevin Mench to ground out.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Hens got the leadoff man on base when Diaz blooped a double down the right-field line and Syracuse walked Rhymes intentionally to set up the double play. That brought Worth to the plate with two on and none out.
"You've got a situation there when I was thinking that they were looking for him to bunt, and if we bunt they're going to walk [Casper] Wells to set up a double play," Parrish said. "Danny has been swinging the bat well, so I thought we'd give him a shot."
Worth took a ball before swinging and missing a pitch from reliever Josh Wilkie. Worth then fouled off a bunt before taking a called third strike.
The Hens got a break when the next batter, Wells, hit a grounder that Chiefs third baseman Chase Lambin booted for an error.
"I had to laugh, because this was the scenario we were expecting if Worth bunts anyway - bases loaded, one out, Larish at the plate," Parrish said.
Larish took three straight balls, then a pair of strikes before Wilkie missed with the game-ending pitch.
The game was just as tight leading up to the ninth. The Hens took an early lead with a run in the second inning as Jeff Frazier and Deik Scram hit back-to-back doubles.
Syracuse tied the game in the third on a bases-loaded fielder's choice by Josh Whitesell - the Hens just missed turning an inning-ending double play when starting pitcher Phil Dumatrait's foot came off the bag at first while taking a throw to complete the twin-killing.
The Chiefs took the lead in the sixth when Pete Orr was hit by a pitch then raced around the bases on Bynum's double. But the Hens retied the game in the eighth when Wells walked, moved to second on a sacrifice by Larish, then raced to the plate on a Frazier single to set up the ninth-inning drama.
"Any time you get out of a jam, then win it late, it should pump you up," Parrish said.
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