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Published: Tuesday, 9/7/2010

Mud Hens end with win, finish in last place

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Robinzon Diaz, right, is congratulated by Ben Guez after smacking his first home run of the season on the final day. Robinzon Diaz, right, is congratulated by Ben Guez after smacking his first home run of the season on the final day.
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For the Mud Hens, Monday's 5-2 win over Columbus at Fifth Third Field marked the end of the 2010 season.

For Mud Hens hitting coach Leon "Bull" Durham, the offseason will last just two weeks.

Durham drove to his home in Cincinnati after

Monday's game, but in two weeks he'll become the hitting coach for the United States team that will play in a qualifying tournament for the 2011 Pan-American Games.

It's a well-deserved honor for Durham, now in his 10th season as the Hens' hitting coach. And it's no surprise that Durham jumped at the chance to focus on one of his passions, teaching hitting.

Max Leon scores for the Mud Hens in the fourth inning on Monday as Columbus catcher Luke Carlin waits for the throw. Max Leon scores for the Mud Hens in the fourth inning on Monday as Columbus catcher Luke Carlin waits for the throw.
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"We're out of first place, and I still had a cage full of guys who were working, trying to get better," Durham said before Sunday's game. "I'll relax at home for a few weeks, and then it's back to work."

Durham will join the Pan-Am team for workouts in Durham, N.C., starting Sept. 25. The team will travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to compete in the 12-team qualifying tournament for next year's Pan-Am Games.The team will consist of players not on current major league

40-man rosters and will be managed by former Mud Hen Ernie Young.

The team will consist of players not on current major league

40-man rosters and will be managed by former Mud Hen Ernie Young.

"They're putting together a bunch of good guys," Durham said. "And it's a great opportunity to go out and compete.

"Plus, I get a chance to have those letters USA on my chest. I get to represent my country. I'm going to work hard for that."

Durham had to be pleased with what he saw Monday as Toledo knocked Columbus out of first place in the West Division; the Clippers instead are the wild- card team entering the Governors' Cup playoffs, which begin tomorrow.

Toledo finished in last place in the West Division with a

70-73 record to end a streak of five consecutive winning seasons. The Mud Hens, however, won their final four regular-season games and finished with a 12-5 flourish.

"We played well the last month," Hens manager Larry Parrish said. "We're probably playing as well as we have all year here at the end."

Toledo's offense mustered a pair of runs in the second when Ben Guez lined a two-out double into the left-field corner and Robinzon Diaz slammed a curve from Columbus starter Corey Kluber over the fence in left-center.

The home run was the first of the season for Diaz.

"I've been pumping him for about a week, telling him, 'You're running out of chances [to hit a home run],'•" Parrish said. "We've had the wind blowing out all week, and he still didn't come close.

"So I told him, 'you'll get four chances in this game. Let's go for it.' And their guy hung him a breaking ball, and he finally hit [his home run]."

The Clippers got those runs back in the top of the third as Jose Constanza lined a two-out single to center and Ezequiel Carrera slammed Toledo starter Ryan Ketchner's next pitch off the buildings behind the right-field fence for his first home run of the season.

But that's all Columbus managed off Ketchner, who allowed just three hits and two walks while fanning six in seven innings. Fu-Te Ni and Brendan Wise finished off the victory, with Wise earning his second save.

"Ketchner threw as many pitches as he has all season," said Parrish of the left-hander, who finished the season with an ERA right at 4.00. Fu-Te Ni threw better than he did in Columbus, and Wise came in and got the ground balls we wanted him to get. We couldn't have scripted it much better."

The Hens took the lead for good with a run in the fourth. Max Leon hit a hard grounder down the right-field line for a double, Guez walked, and one out later Shawn Roof singled to score Leon.

After letting scoring chances pass in the fifth and sixth, the Hens managed two insurance runs in the seventh. Henry - who reached base four times thanks to three walks and a hit batsman - walked to lead off. Iorg fouled a pitch off his leg but stayed in the game to slam the next pitch by Clippers reliever Saul Rivera over the head of center fielder Carrera for an RBI double.

Iorg moved to third on a groundout by Andy Dirks and scored on Michael Bertram's sacrifice fly.

NOTES: Monday's crowd of 8,327 at Fifth Third Field gave the Mud Hens a season's attendance total of 558,059. That mark is the fifth-highest season total in franchise history but marked the third consecutive year the team's attendance total has dropped from the previous year. … Chris White went 0-for-4 to snap a 12-game hitting streak. … Dirks singled in the third to end the season with an eight-game hit streak, his best this season.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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