The Toledo Mud Hens wasted little time adjusting to playoff baseball Wednesday night at Fifth Third Field.
For the first time since 2007, postseason baseball returned to Toledo and the Mud Hens made the most of Game 1 of an International League first-round series with a 10-3 win against the Durham Bulls.
Mud Hens starter Ryan Carpenter retired Durham 1-2-3 in the top of the first inning, then Toledo broke through for four runs in the bottom half.
After Jacob Robson and Christin Stewart struck out looking to lead off the Mud Hens first, Willi Castro started the rally with an RBI single that scored Chad Huffman for the first run of the game. Daz Cameron followed with a two-run single that dribbled through the right side of the infield, and Harold Castro blooped an RBI single to left field.
“Jumping out 4-0 in the first is huge,” Mud Hens manager Doug Mientkiewicz said. “To me, surviving the first at home is a big hurdle. Guys have adrenaline especially a guy like Carpenter. Getting through the first was huge and everything started with two outs right there. That rut that we were in earlier in the season, we just weren’t getting big two-out hits, so to score four runs with two outs in the first is a huge boost.”
Toledo kept the scoring going in the second with an RBI double by Robson that scored Pete Kozma to increase the lead to 5-0.
Kozma added to the Toledo lead in the third with a two-run double to left that made it 7-0.
The Mud Hens chased Durham starter Ryan Weber after just three innings after the right-hander allowed seven runs, six of which were earned.
The Bulls got two runs off Carpenter in the fourth on an RBI groundout by Nate Lowe and an RBI double from Rob Refsnyder.
Refsnyder tried to score on a single by Jake Cronenworth, but was gunned down at the plate on a strong throw by Stewart from left field.
Jason Krizan then crushed a solo home run to right in the bottom of the fourth to extend the Mud Hens lead to 8-2.
In the top of the fifth, Carpenter worked out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam by forcing a pop out from Joe McCarthy and striking out Brandon Snyder after an extended at-bat.
Carpenter pitched six solid innings, allowing two runs on seven hits with two walks and six strikeouts.
“I felt really good,” Carpenter said. “I thought I started off really well. I hit a bit of a speed bump in the fourth and fifth innings. But I battled out of it. That’s huge to come out and score runs like that to start the game off. It builds huge momentum for us. I’ve thrown against these guys a couple times and I know their lineup fairly well and I kept the same approach and it worked out pretty well.”
Hunter Cervenka relieved Carpenter and pitched a scoreless seventh.
With Josh Smoker pitching in the top of the eighth, Refsnyder drew a one-out, bases-loaded walk to cut Toledo’s lead to 8-3. Smoker worked his way out of the jam with a strikeout of Cronenworth and a foul out by Roberto Pena.
Toledo extended its lead in the bottom half on an RBI single by Huffman. Kozma then scored on a wild pitch as the Mud Hens went up 10-3.
Johnny Barbato pitched a scoreless ninth to close out the game.
The Mud Hens had 12 hits in the game, while the four Toledo pitchers scattered nine hits.
Cameron had a huge game with his father and former major-leaguer Mike Cameron at the ballpark, going 3 for 3 with two RBIs, two runs, and a stolen base.
“For us to come out here as a team and have fun and play together and try to win ball games is the most important part,” Daz Cameron said. “I was trying to do anything I could to help the team win and for me to come through felt good. It’s just amazing being around these fans and this great group of guys we have in the clubhouse. It feels good to come through and win tonight.”
Toledo improved to 5-6 against Durham this season, and 4-0 against the Bulls at Fifth Third Field.
The Mud Hens host Durham for Game 2 of the series at 6:35 p.m. Thursday. Jacob Turner is the scheduled starter for Toledo, while the Bulls’ probable starter is Austin Pruitt.
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