It took a little bit of luck, but the Louisville Bats finally beat the Toledo Mud Hens. Justin Henry’s crucial eighth inning error broke a 1-1 tie and allowed the Bats to snap a nine game losing streak against the Mud Hens 3-2 Sunday afternoon.
With two outs and a runner at first in the eighth, Mike Costanzo and Neftali Soto worked back to back walks to load the bases and bring the Bats’ lone All Star Dioner Navarro to the plate. Navarro sent a line drive to center field that appeared to be the final out. Henry moved over, reached out, and had the ball bounce out of his glove, allowing two runs to score, securing a Bats victory.
“The guys before (Navarro’s at bat) had great at bats to put us in that position,” Bats manager David Bell said. “It was an error, but (Navarro) squared the ball up and put himself in a position tow in.”
The Bats (33-59) beat the Mud Hens (37-53) for the first time this season at Louisville Slugger Field. The game was delayed 67 minutes due to rain.
For just the 31st time in their 92 games, the Bats got on the board first with an RBI sacrifice fly from Navarro in the first. Louisville is now 20-11 when striking first.
Bats starter Sean Gallagher played with fire all night but was never burned by the Mud Hens. Toledo had runners in scoring position in the first, second, and fifth innings against Gallagher but failed to score.
In the fifth, the Mud Hens loaded the bases with one out but Gallagher got John Lindsey to fly out and struck out Ryan Strieby on three pitches to end the inning.
Gallagher finished his night with six shutout innings, giving up five hits, walking four, and striking out two. It was his first shutout appearance of the season.
“(Gallagher) has had a good year overall,” Bell said. “He was determined today and gave the team exactly what we needed.”
While Gallagher pitched well enough for the win, his start was foiled in the seventh when the Mud Hens broke through against Kanekoa Texiera. With two outs in the inning, Ben Guez ripped an RBI double to left-center to tie the game at 1-1.
After Texiera walked Lindsey, JJ Hoover came in and threw one pitch to get Strieby to line out, ending the frame. Hoover pitched a perfect eighth and came back in for the ninth but was lifted after a single and an error put runners at the corners with nobody out.
In came Jordan Smith, who got a double play on the first pitch he threw, and struck out Guez looking to end the game.
“Hoover has been pitching so good,” Bell said. “He probably could’ve pitched out of the inning, but we had Smith ready and he did a good job.”
After enjoying three days off for the All Star Break, the Bats return to Louisville Slugger Field Thursday night to start a four game series with the Gwinnett Braves.
Of Note: Injured Bats Chris Valaika and Brett Tomko are set to rejoin the club Thursday after the All Star Break. Felix Perez and Willie Harris will likely have to wait until Friday or Saturday before joining the club.
Programming note: There was no Bats Sunday Notebook due to the approaching All Star Break. Check back here Tuesday for a special edition of Bats Sunday Notebook where you can get caught up on everything Bats.