As Hollywood scripts go, the Mud Hens’ 5-3 victory over Norfolk at Fifth Third Field on Wednesday was nearly perfect.
Toledo catcher Brad Davis, playing in his final professional game, played a key role. Davis, who retired after the contest, collected a pair of doubles, had two RBIs and scored an insurance run as the Hens beat the Tides for the first time in six tries this season.
“We got the win, I got a couple of hits and a couple of RBIs,” Davis said. “I couldn’t have asked for any more.
“I got a champagne shower when I came in [to the clubhouse after the game]. Seeing these guys rally around me made this really tough.”
Teammate Ben Guez said the sendoff was the Hens’ way of showing their understanding of Davis’ bittersweet emotions.
“It’s tough to see [that situation] — especially when you know [retirement] is where everyone is headed to eventually,” Guez said. “Nobody can play the game forever, and the game means a lot to everyone in the clubhouse.
“It’s a reminder that all of this will come to an end some day, and you have to enjoy every second.”
Things looked grim for the Hens early as Norfolk’s Chris Dickerson hit a solo home run off Toledo starter Blaine Hardy in the first, and Chris Snyder hit a two-run homer in the second.
But back-to-back doubles by Danny Dorn and Guez in the bottom of the second got one of those runs back. After a walk by Danny Worth and Kevin Russo’s sacrifice, Davis tied the game with a two-run double.
After the rocky start Hardy settled down with a career-high nine strikeouts in five innings. Luke Putkonen followed with three scoreless innings, and Jose Ortega got the game’s final three outs.
“He really has settled into this starting thing,” Hens manager Phil Nevin said of Hardy. “He was able to throw strikes, and the curveball was a good pitch.
“And Putkonen and Ortega were good out of the bullpen.”
In the sixth, Dorn slammed his second double of the night, then scored the go-ahead run on a Guez single. Guez, who hit just .182 in April, finished with three hits and is batting .252 this season.
“Benny really struggled early,” Nevin said. “But he has picked it up, and both he and Dorn are having fine seasons. I’m really happy with the way guys like Guez and Dorn have gone about their business. … This is a good group.”
In the seventh, Davis, in his final pro at-bat, hit a fly ball that fell between three Tides for a double. He moved to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch.
“The game has a way of taking care of those who took care of it for a long time,” Nevin said. “For Davis to have that kind of a night was pretty cool.”
NOTES: The Mud Hens will activate reliever Matt Hoffman from the disabled list to fill Davis’s roster spot. … Nick Castellanos missed his third straight game after getting hit by a pitch Saturday. Nevin said he expects Castellanos to return to the lineup today.