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Mud Hens clinch division title, first playoff berth since 2007

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    Toledo's Jacob Robson runs to second base during a game this season. Robson homered in the Mud Hens 10-5 win over Columbus on Sunday.

    Blade/Samantha Madar

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    Toledo Mud Hens players celebrate with Chad Huffman after a home run in a game this season. The Mud Hens clinched the International League West Division championship Sunday, sealing their first playoff bid since 2007.

    Blade/Samantha Madar

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    Blade/Kurt Steiss

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With a 10-5 win Sunday against the Columbus Clippers at Huntington Park coupled with a loss by the Indianapolis Indians, the Toledo Mud Hens have earned their first International League division title since 2007 and with it a return to the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade.

The Mud Hens scored five runs in the third and fifth innings to win their third straight game in the series against Columbus. 

The Indians lost 10-2 to the Louisville Bats later in the day, allowing the Mud Hens to clinch the IL West with Monday’s game in Columbus remaining. 

RELATED CONTENT: Mud Hens add to team history with IL West title

Since falling to .500 at 62-62 on Aug. 18, Toledo has won 11 of 14 games to pass the Indians and Clippers to earn the division title. 

Toledo will host the first two games of their IL semifinal series Wednesday and Thursday at Fifth Third Field against South Division champion Durham. The best-of-5 series then moves to Durham for the final three games.

Columbus jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first, when Bobby Bradley laced a two-run double to right-center field against Mud Hens starter Matt Hall.

But Toledo scored 10 unanswered runs to open up a 10-2 lead after five innings.

It started in the third, when Jacob Robson got things going for the Mud Hens when he belted a solo home run to left field. Daz Cameron followed with a bases-loaded double to drive in Christin Stewart and Chad Huffman. Willi Castro then registered a two-run single that scored Jason Krizan and Cameron.

In the fifth, Harold Castro singled in Cameron and eventually scored on a Jarrod Saltalamacchia single. Stewart added a sacrifice fly, then Krizan drove two runs on a single to stretch the lead to 10-2.

The Clippers got a run back in the fifth on an RBI double from Oscar Mercado and scored twice in the seventh on a double from Adam Rosales to cut the Toledo lead to 10-5.

The Mud Hens recorded 13 hits, including a three-hit effort by Robson and two apiece from Harold Castro and Saltalamacchia. All nine Toledo starters had a hit in the game.

Hall went six innings, allowing three runs on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts.

Toledo reliever Josh Smoker allowed the seventh-inning runs to the Clippers before Kevin Comer pitched two innings of scoreless relief to end the game. 

Columbus meanwhile only got 2⅓ innings out of starting pitcher Shao-Ching Chiang, who was activated off the disabled list to make the start, and was forced to use six pitchers in the game.

Warwick Saupold (3-1, 4.38 ERA) will start regular-season finale for the Mud Hens, while Ryan Merritt (2-3, 4.13 ERA) will get the ball for the Clippers.

PLAYOFF TICKETS: Fans can call the box office from noon to 5 p.m. Monday and starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday at 419-725-4367 for tickets, or go online to MudHens.com.

TRANSACTION: Edwin Espinal was assigned to Double-A Erie from Toledo on Saturday.

Contact Brian Buckey at bbuckey@theblade.com419-724-6110, or on Twitter @BrianBuckey.

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