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Published: Monday, 5/20/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

BASEBALL

Lennerton sparks Mud Hens to win

Patience at plate shows in victory against Syracuse

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

It was only one at-bat in Sunday’s Mud Hens game, a contest that saw 71 batters step to the plate.

Jordan Lennerton’s fifth-inning match-up against Syracuse’s Ross Ohlendorf was a beauty — not to mention a key moment in Toledo’s 4-3 win at Fifth Third Field.

Lennerton worked Ohlendorf for 12 pitches, fouling off seven, before slaming his second home run of the game.

“Phenomenal. Great at-bat,” Mud Hens manager Phil Nevin said of Lennerton’s effort. “It was one of the turning points in the game.”

At the time Lennerton stepped to the plate, Syracuse had scored a run to tie the contest at 1-1. Argenis Diaz, who had doubled to open the frame, was on third after a groundout.

Lennerton got ahead of Ohlendorf 2-1, then fouled off a pitch to even the count — and then the battle started.

“He threw me a couple of fastballs in earlier at-bats, and I felt I was on them,” Lennerton said. “When the count was 2-2, he threw the breaking ball down, and I just kept fighting.

“He kept challenging me and challenging me. He threw a couple of good fastballs up in the zone, but I managed to put good swings on them and foul them off. Then he threw me a change-up that I was able to stay on and drive.”

Lennerton drove the ball onto the batter’s eye in straight-away center for a two-run homer and a 3-1 Toledo lead. It was the second home run of the day for the 27-year-old first baseman, who also singled and walked.

The three hits give Lennerton a nine-game hit streak, the longest for a Mud Hen this season, and a .311 batting average

“I’m seeing [the ball] well and I feel very comfortable,” Lennerton said. “I’ve spent time with [Toledo hitting coach] ‘Bull’ [Durham] in the batting cage, and I’m happy where everything is.

“We worked more on my rhythm than mechanics. … He wants to make sure I’m moving in the right direction and at the right time.”

Lennerton had three of Toledo’s 12 hits as the Mud Hens’ offense continues to show signs of life. After batting just .213 in April, the Hens are hitting .268 in May.

“It’s nice to put some good games together and have a little swagger,” Lennerton admitted. “It goes a long way when you feel you can’t be beaten at the plate, when you feel the pitcher is the one who is nervous.”

Lennerton’s fifth-inning home run was one of three strong at-bats Nevin thought helped carry his team to victory. The other two came in the sixth after Syracuse had scored a run in the top of the inning to make the score 3-2.

After Bryan Holaday led off with a single, Kevin Russo battled through an 11-pitch at-bat against Ohlendorf. Russo fell behind 1-2, then fouled off five pitches while working the count full. Then Nevin sent Holaday on a hit-and-run, and Russo lined a single to push Holaday to third.

The Chiefs then brought on left-handed reliever Fernando Abad to face the left-handed Corey Jones. On a 1-1 pitch, Jones managed to bloop a single to left to score Holaday. “Those were just huge at-bats,” Nevin said of Russo’s and Jones’s at-bats. “They were uplifting for the team.

“When you punch in those kinds of runs, it makes you feel good about what you’re doing.”

Toledo starter Jose Alvarez gave up seven hits and three runs while fanning seven in 6 ⅔ innings to win his third straight start.

“[Syracuse] did hit a few balls well off Alvarez,” Nevin said. “But I thought he threw as well as he has been throwing.”

Brayan Villarreal and Bruce Rondon were impressive in relief, getting the game’s final seven outs in a row. “We talk about [Villarreal] going too fast some times, but he really slowed himself down [in this game],” Nevin said. “He had good movement on his fastball. When he throws the ball over the plate, he’s tough to handle. And Rondon threw well at the end of the game too.”

NOTES: RHP Al Alburquerque, who was optioned to Toledo from Detroit on May 16, is expected to join the Mud Hens today. … Holaday had two hits Sunday to extend his current hit streak to six games. … Ramon Cabrera went 0-for-5 to snap a six-game hit streak. … The crowd of 9,343 was the Hens’ fifth sellout this season and the 332nd in Fifth Third Field history.

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.



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