The Mud Hens nearly used some “Angels Wings” magic to steal a win at Fifth Third Field Monday night.
Toledo trailed Charlotte by three runs entering the bottom of the ninth inning as the outfield scoreboards showed a scene from the movie Angels in the Outfield. The clip, which shows fans waving their arms like wings, is supposed to be a good-luck charm for rallies.
It nearly worked as the Hens bunched four singles to score two runs, then had the bases loaded before they made the final out in a 6-5 loss.
PHOTO GALLERY: Mud Hens vs. Charlotte
Toledo outfielder Trevor Crowe, who had three of his team’s 12 hits, said it was the never-say-die attitude, not a movie clip, that nearly created the comeback.
“We’ve done a good job of coming back in games — in this one, the game just ran out [of outs] for us,” he said. “It’s important to have the mentality that you’re never going to give up, you’re never going to die.
“The more you play with that [mentality], the more games you’re going to win in a long season.”
Crowe came up in the ninth with two outs and nobody on base and promptly singled off Knights reliever Donnie Veal.
“I just wanted to get a good pitch to hit, put a good swing on it and give myself a chance to get on base,” Crowe said.
Brandon Douglas singled Crowe to second, and pinch-hitter James McCann singled Crowe home. When Ezequeil Carrera singled to score Douglas, McCann stood on second as the potential game-tying run.
Hernan Perez hit a ground ball to shortstop for what looked to be the game’s final out. But Charlotte’s Marcus Semien misplayed it for an error to load the bases.
“We kept pecking away,” Toledo manager Larry Parrish said. “Perez hit a ground ball, but he ran the ball out. And when the ball came up on the shortstop, he gave another hitter a chance [to get the winning hit].
“It’s a little thing, but that’s the kind of thing that will win you ball games.”
The Hens seemed star-crossed when the next batter, Eugenio Suarez, hit a foul popup that eluded both first baseman Andy Wilkins and second baseman Carlos Sanchez. But Suarez smoked the next pitch right at Charlotte left fielder Jared Mitchell for the game’s final out.
The big comeback was necessitated by the struggles of Mud Hens starter Derek Hankins. He gave up two runs in the second on a home run by Blake Tekotte, then surrendered four more in the third, including a two-run homer by Matt Davidson.
“He was throwing everything he had, but they were just squaring things up,” Parrish said of Hankins.
The bullpen kept the Mud Hens in the game as Chad Smith, Jose Ortega and Justin Miller allowed just two hits in four scoreless innings.
“Smith, Ortega, and Miller [combined] to give us four good innings — and gave us a chance to win,” Parrish said.
So did the offense, which kept grinding out runs. Tyler Collins got things rolling with a home run in the second, his sixth of the season.
Toledo added a run in the seventh on Crowe’s RBI single, then added a run in the eighth on a run-scoring groundout by Suarez.
NOTES: Before the game the Mud Hens activated IF Brandon Douglas from the disabled list. IF Troy Hanzawa, who hit .103 in 10 games for Toledo, was released to make room for Douglas on the roster. … LHP Robbie Ray developed a blister on his finger and will miss his scheduled start Friday in Buffalo. LHP Mike Belfiore will start in Ray’s place. Ray was removed after throwing two pitches in the fourth inning of Sunday’s game. ... The Hens will play four games in Buffalo, then travel to play three at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before returning home for a June 12 game against Buffalo to begin a four-game series. That will be followed by four home games against Scranton/WB.