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Red Wings split quasi-doubleheader

By: Mike Rose

The Red Wings celebrate Alex Call's game one walk off win. (Photo Credit: Ethan Bissinger/Rochester Red Wings)

ROCHESTER, NY -- It was an eventful 14 innings of action Thursday, the Rochester Red Wings and Toledo Mud Hens each ended up on the right and wrong side of things. The two teams did battle in a quasi-doubleheader after Wednesday's game was rained out just two innings in. The teams split the difference overall with the Red Wings rallying for a walk-off win in game one 6-5 and falling in game two 7-3.

The game one rally from Rochester began in the bottom of the ninth with the Red Wings trailing by two. Travis Blakenhorn led off the inning with a booming triple to right field and Trey Lipscomb scored him on a groundout leaving the bases empty with one out and Rochester down 5-4. Jake Alu followed working a walk to put the tying run at first. After a Jack Dunn groundout advanced Alu, Darren Baker stepped to the plate as a pinch-hitter and delivered. His RBI single ricocheted off of second base in a moment that felt like the comeback was destined to be on this day.

The next batter Erick Meija worked a walk to bring Alex Call to the plate with two down and the winning run on second. Call, who was 0-for-4 on the day, finished it off with a double into left field to give the Red Wings a 6-5 victory.

"You gotta want the fifth at-bat," Call said. "I had a nice lineout the one (at-bat) before so I was ready. I looked at where I was hitting in the lineup and said 'If I get up I'll have a chance to walk it off' so I was ready for it and you know get in the moment, get the juices flowing and just try to get a good pitch."

The second game erased the good vibes for the Red Wings quickly. Robert Gsellman got the start for Rochester and began the game allowing a lead-off single to Akil Baddoo. He walked the next two batters before Keston Hiura launched a grand slam to center field to give Toledo an early 4-0 lead.

Gsellman eventually settled in and struck out six straight batters. The Red Wings chipped away the deficit but were unable to battle back late as the Mud Hens were able to cruise to a victory.

Keston Hiura (right) following his game two first inning grand slam. Hiura finished 2-for-4 in the second game. (Photo Credit: Ethan Bissinger/Rochester Red Wings)

"I think we stole that first one so it was a great job by guys not quitting and putting together good at-bats so it was great to get that one," Call said. "I thought we battled back after a tough start (in game two), I thought Gsellman had a good bounce back after the grand slam and we battled, you know felt good about it and it just didn't go our way."

Game one began on Wednesday. Juan Yepez was responsible for the lone run during Wednesday's limited action with an RBI double that scored James Wood while Jackson Rutledge fired two scoreless frames before play was called.

When play resumed Thursday, Toledo struck first. After a leadoff single and stolen base from Jace Jung, Justice Bigbie launched a two-run home run to center field to give the Mud Hens their first lead. One inning later the Mud Hens would extend their lead to 3-1 with a leadoff solo shot from Ryan Vilade.

Meanwhile, Matt Manning stifled the Rochester offense. Manning retired 10 consecutive batters from the end of the second through the fifth to keep the Red Wings from making a dent in the margin.

"I thought he threw a lot of strikes," Red Wings manager Matt LeCroy said. "He's a pretty tough guy to have down in Triple-A to face. He executed his pitches, he executed his game plan. He had a good mix with the breaking ball and the slider. His fastball has that late life to it and we swung at some balls up in the zone. But that's what happens when you face guys with stuff and you gotta tip your cap he was really good."

Alex Call waves to the crowd after his walk off double. (Photo Credit: Ethan Bissinger/Rochester Red Wings)

Offensively the Mud Hens kept rolling as a string of three consecutive hits in the fifth resulted in two more runs on the board. Buddy Kennedy singled followed by a ground-rule double from Anthony Bemboom. Vilade stepped up to drive in his second and third runs of the game with a two-run single.

In the bottom half of the frame, the Red Wings comeback got underway. James Wood led off with a single and was brought in on a Blakenhorn double. Trey Lipscomb followed with his first career Triple-A hit to cut the deficit to two with an RBI single. The score held there until the fireworks in the ninth.

"Anybody can be the hero on any given night," LeCroy said. "But I really love our approach. We're getting walks, we're working counts and we're kind of waiting on our I call it the 'honey hole' you but we are looking for that area. We're not afraid to give up a strike so hopefully we continue to do that."

The Red Wings (8-7) will enter the back half of its series with the Mud Hens (10-8) tomorrow at Innovative Field. DJ Herz (0-1, 6.14) is slated to start the fourth game of the set for Rochester while Toledo will send Brant Hurter (0-1, 6.55) to the mound. The first pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.

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