Brad Eldred is greeted by teammates as he comes home after hitting a two-out, three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift the Mud Hens to a victory Sunday over Syracuse.
There wasn’t a monkey on the backs of the Mud Hens Sunday — it was more like King Kong.
Toledo managed to send Kong back to Skull Island with a four-run ninth-inning rally that produced a 5-2 win over Syracuse. The victory, played before the 300th sellout crowd in Fifth Third Field history, snapped a four-game losing streak for the Hens.
“That was a monkey off my back knowing I could help the team win,” said Matt Young, whose RBI single tied the game with two outs in the ninth. “And when Brad [Eldred] stepped up to the plate, the fans weren’t the only ones excited.
“When he hit that ball [for a game-winning home run], it was a monkey off everyone’s backs. To pull out a win in the fashion that we did, it was a relief.”
The Mud Hens trailed 2-1 entering the bottom of the ninth of a well-pitched, well-played game. Toledo starter Casey Crosby gave up a home run to the first batter he faced, Corey Brown, then allowed just two singles until the seventh, when a double, a sacrifice, and a sacrifice fly scored a second run.
“Crosby was outstanding,” Toledo manager Phil Nevin said. “It seemed like he was ahead of a lot of batters, and he commanded all three of his pitches.
“When you give up a leadoff homer, things can crumble quickly. But he showed a lot of heart.”
Crosby allowed just five hits and didn’t walk a batter while fanning six in eight impressive innings.
“I was able to locate my fastball on the inner and outer parts of the [strike] zone, and hitters weren’t getting very good swings at it,” Crosby said. “If I’m locating my fastball and my off-speed stuff is over the plate, I’m going to have success.”
The problem for the Hens was that Syracuse starter Yunesky Maya was equally tough. Justin Henry singled with one out in the fourth, stole second, and scored on a two-out single by Eric Patterson for the only two hits off Maya in seven innings.
Toledo second baseman Danny Worth prepares to tag out Syracuse’s Jeff Howell, who was trying to steal in the third inning.
“We had just gotten a big run to tie the game,” Eldred said. “I thought the pressure was off because we had scored the run to tie the game. Anything else is a bonus at that point.
“A base hit wins the game, but you have to be ready to hit.”
Eldred swung at the first pitch by Chiefs reliever Josh Wilkie and lined it off the left-field scoreboard for his International League-leading 17th home run of the season, a three-run shot that produced Toledo’s first walk-off win of the season.
“We’ve had some tight games, so it was tough to drop some of the games we’ve lost,” Eldred said. “Hopefully this type of victory will help boost the morale.
“I don’t think anyone was down, but we were in some situations where we wanted to win and we didn’t. It was good to get a big win like this.”
NOTES: The Mud Hens placed LHP Fu-Te Ni on the disabled list with a UCL sprain. LHP Ryan Robowski was promoted from Double-A Erie and will join the Hens today for their 10:30 a.m. contest against the Chiefs. … C Omir Santos was a scratch from Sunday’s original lineup with an arm bruise. He is listed as day-to-day. … The crowd of 9,973 was Toledo’s third sellout this season. … Sunday’s contest lasted just 2:18, making it the quickest nine-inning game for the Hens this season.
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.