Saturday night, the Mud Hens nearly overcame an early five-run deficit for the second time in four days.
Toledo scored three runs in the eighth to give itself a chance to beat Syracuse, but the Hens fell short in a 6-4 loss to the Chiefs in front of 9,406 at Fifth Third Field.
“Yes, we overcame a five-run deficit a few days ago, but you’re not going to see that happen too often,” Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said. “You can’t let that happen.
“It was too big of a hole early.”
The Chiefs got their offense cranked up quickly against Toledo starter Ramon Garcia, scoring twice in the first inning and adding three more runs in the second.
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Jeff Kobernus got the first-inning rally started with a one-out double, and he came around to score on a two-out double by Chris Marrero. Marrero then came home on a single by Corey Brown.
In the second inning, Syracuse got back-to-back singles by Zach Walters and Carlos Rivera. Brian Jeroloman sacrificed the runners up a base, and they both came home on a double by Chris Rahl.
Kobernus followed with a double down the left-field line to score Rahl.
While the Chiefs didn’t score after the second, they certainly had plenty of opportunities. They banged out 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings against Garcia and had at least one hit in each of the first seven innings, stranding 10 runners on base in that span.
“He got some pitches up against a lineup he hasn’t seen before,” Nevin said of Garcia. “He made some adjustments the third time through the order and was more successful.”
Robbie Weinhardt restored some order, allowing just two hits in 3 1/3 scoreless innings, but that deficit was too much for the Hens to overcome.
Not that Toledo didn’t have its chances too as Syracuse starter Danny Rosenbaum struggled with his command in the early innings, walking five and throwing just 19 of his first 42 pitches for strikes.
But the Hens managed just one run in those early innings. Ben Guez drew a one-out walk in the second, took second on a balk, advanced to third on a groundout, and scored on a single by Bryan Holaday.
“You have to take advantage of those things, and we didn’t,” Nevin said.
In the eighth, the Hens rallied to make things interesting, scoring three times to make it a one-run game.
With one out, Danny Dorn singled, and Guez hit a hot shot to third base that Syracuse’s Carlos Rivero snagged, then threw wildly to first for an error to put runners on first and third.
Ramon Cabrera doubled in Dorn, and with two outs, pinch-hitter Quintin Berry doubled to the wall in left to score Guez and Cabrera.
“That was nice to see,” Nevin said of the double by Berry, who has batted just .121 in May. “Hopefully that will get him going.”
But Berry was stranded on second when Argenis Diaz struck out, and Syracuse added an insurance run in the ninth when an intentional walk to load the bases backfired as Kenny Faulk walked Brian Jeroloman on a close 3-2 pitch to force home a run.
Toledo got the first two runners on base in the bottom of the ninth on singles by Kevin Russo and Jordan Lennerton, but Nick Castellanos struck out, and Dorn was retired on a fly to right.
Guez worked Syracuse closer Erik Davis for a walk to load the bases, but Cabrera popped out to end the game.
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481, or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.