TOLEDO, Oh. – The Indianapolis Indians looked to be on their way to a series sweep not once, but twice, on Sunday evening, but the Toledo Mud Hens would not back down.
Mike Hessman‘s solo home run tied the game in the bottom of the ninth and after the Indians reclaimed the lead in the tenth, Tyler Collins‘ two-run double sent the Hens to a 3-2 walk-off win at Fifth Third Field.
The game started 46 minutes late due to a rain delay, but once the sun came out and baseball was played, pitching dominated.
Indianapolis starting pitcher Radhames Liz tossed six innings of scoreless ball for the Indians, giving up just four hits and striking out six batters in his time on the mound.
Mud Hens starter Mike Belfiore also only gave up four hits, but his shutout would end when a run would be charged to him after exiting the game in the eighth.
Gift Ngoepe led off the inning with a double and moved up to third on a sacrifice bunt, but would get thrown out at home when Belfiore was able to catch him in a pickle on a grounder from Pedro Florimon.
Florimon advanced all the way to third in the rundown, which would prove to be important once Josh Zeid took over for Belfiore on the hill. With a 3-2 count on Keon Broxton, Zeid threw a wild pitch for ball four, allowing Florimon to race home and put the Indians ahead 1-0.
The run would go on Belfiore’s line, as he surrendered a single run on four hits and two walks in 7 2/3 innings pitched.
Josh Wall replaced Liz in the seventh for the Indians and worked around a hit and a walk before Blake Wood came on for the two inning save. Indianapolis’ closer threw a scoreless eighth, but the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the ninth was able to erase the Tribe’s one-run lead with one swing of the bat.
Mike Hessman, the International League’s all-time leader in home runs, added to his record total with a solo shot to center that tied the game at one run each and sent the game into extra innings.
The Tribe answered quickly in extras, taking back their lead with a run in the top half of the tenth against Hens relievers Jeff Farrell and Jose Valdez.
Wilkin Castillo started the frame by drawing a walk, but was picked off at first before Ngoepe grounded out for the second out. Alen Hanson kept the inning alive with a single, which forced Toledo to call on Valdez for the final out. Valdez would not be able to get the out before the Indians scored, as Florimon came to the plate and drilled a RBI triple to right to push Indianapolis ahead 2-1.
Yhonathan Barrios then entered the game for the Tribe in the bottom of the tenth, just three outs away from giving the Indians a fourth straight win. After getting the leadoff batter on a lineout, Alexi Casilla and Dixon Machado reached base to bring Collins to the dish with a good scoring opportunity. Toledo’s center fielder would take advantage, shooting a double to right to bring home both runners and give the Mud Hens the thrilling 3-2 victory.
After three wins in four tries in Toledo to start the season’s second half, the Indians will return to Victory Field on Monday for the first time since July 6. First pitch from Indianapolis is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. with A.J. Morris (3-1, 2.96 ERA) set to take the ball for the Tribe against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.