As soon as the ball left Brad Davis’ bat, he knew he had to turn a sure, safe single to center into a double.
“With two outs in the ninth inning, with me standing on first base we need two hits to win,” the Mud Hens’ catcher said. “So in that situation I knew I had to get to second base.
“I knew it would be close, and [the move] wasn’t in my favor. But it’s a roll of the dice — and it came up good.”
With Davis on second base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Ramon Cabrera singled him home to give the Hens a 3-2 win over Louisville at Fifth Third Field on Friday.
“That’s a phenomenal play,” Toledo manager Phil Nevin said of the play by Davis. “It was a heads-up, gutsy play.
“When he hit the ball in the gap and their centerfielder had to run a long way to get it, I hoped he was going — and he was. It was a great time to take that chance.”
The next batter, Cabrera, fell behind 0-2 before lining a single up the middle, and Davis beat the throw to the plate to set off the Hens’ second walk-off victory celebration this season.
“The hustle by Davis was the key to us winning the game,” Cabrera said. “When he got to second base, he put the game on me.
“I just looked for a good pitch to hit, and I got the base hit.”
The hit by Cabrera was the climax of a well-played game by the Hens, who took a 2-0 lead in the second thanks to a two-run homer by Ben Guez.
Toledo starter Derek Hankins held Louisville in check until the fifth, when former Mud Hen Mike Hessman opened the frame with his 14th home run of the season.
Then in the sixth the Bats tied the game on a controversial play. Billy Hamilton led off the inning with a double, then moved to third on a groundout.
With the infield playing in, Neftali Soto hit a grounder to third base. Argenis Diaz grabbed the ball and threw home well ahead of Hamilton, but Hamilton tried to slide around Bryan Holaday blocking the plate and was called safe by home-plate umpire A.J. Johnson.
Nevin was ejected for arguing the call, and one pitch later Holaday was ejected as well.
“We saw it differently, and that’s how it goes,” Nevin said of the argument. “We were gone for a while, so we had to wake the home crowd up.”
The game remained tied until the bottom of the ninth thanks to several outstanding defensive plays by the Hens as well as the pitching of Hankins, who allowed just four hits in seven innings, and the Toledo bullpen.
“We were a little thin in the bullpen, so for Hankins to give us seven strong was a great outing,” Nevin said. “He did a great job of keeping us in the game.”
The Hens are now 8-17 in one-run games this season.
“The way things have gone for us, we’ve had a lot of one-run losses,” Davis said. “To be a run up [at the end], hopefully it lifts the spirits of this team and gets the ball rolling for more one-run wins.”
NOTES: The start of the game was delayed 42 minutes by rain. … Toledo sent LHP Ramon Garcia to Double-A Erie and placed LHP Kenny Faulk on the disabled list with a broken hand. RHP Robbie Weinhardt will be called up from Erie to take Faulk’s spot, while LHP Pat Misch will come off the disabled list to start Sunday in place of Garcia.