Rodríguez, Hens rally to beat Saints in 11 innings

Toledo Mud Hens
TOLEDO, OhioAderlin Rodríguez clobbered a game-tying, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings, before hitting a walk-off single in the 11th to lift the Toledo Mud Hens to a thrilling 9-8 victory over the St. Paul Saints on Thursday at Fifth Third Field.

Trailing 6-4 entering the home half of the ninth, the Mud Hens (56-42) were quickly in business as Kody Clemens reached on a fielding error by St. Paul (53-46) shortstop J.T. Riddle to lead off the frame. Two batters later, Rodríguez knotted the score at six apiece when he hammered a 1-0 pitch off the videoboard for his league-leading 24th home run of the campaign.

St. Paul manufactured a run to reclaim the lead in the top of the 10th. Jimmy Kerrigan started the inning on second base, advanced to third when Sherman Johnson flied out to deep center, and came home on Drew Maggi’s base hit into left field.

The Mud Hens stayed alive by scoring a run in the bottom of the same stanza. After Brady Policelli laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt that allowed Ryan Kreidler to reach third, Riley Greene lined a sacrifice fly into left to plate Kreidler and make it a 7-7 ballgame.

The Saints went back in front with another run in the top of the 11th, as Damek Tomscha used two wild pitches from Wladimir Pinto to come home and give the visitors an 8-7 edge.

Toledo ended the back-and-forth encounter with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning. Representing the potential tying run at second base, pinch-runner Jacob Robson advanced to third when Spencer Torkelson flied out to right, and slid home safely on a wild pitch to even the score at 8-8. The line kept moving as Kody Clemens ripped a double off the right-field wall before Isaac Paredes drew a walk to join him on the basepaths. Rodríguez then sent the first pitch he faced into left field for a base hit to drive in Clemens and complete the comeback bid.

The result keeps the Mud Hens two games ahead of second-place Omaha in the Midwest Division standings following the latter’s 3-2 win at Iowa, while St. Paul now sits 3.5 games behind Toledo.

Logan Shore recorded six strikeouts in 4.2 innings of work, but conceded five earned runs on six hits and three walks. Nivaldo Rodríguez pitched two scoreless innings to keep the Mud Hens in the contest, before Drew Carlton and Pinto each surrendered an unearned run out of the Hen Pen.

At the plate, Rodríguez finished 2-for-4 with a game-tying, two-run homer, a walk-off RBI single, two walks and a pair of runs. Clemens ended the night 3-for-6 with a double, an RBI single and two runs, while Christin Stewart went 2-for-5 with two singles and a run.

The Mud Hens broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the third inning. Greene ripped a leadoff single into right and moved up to second when Niko Goodrum drew a walk. After Spencer Torkelson grounded into a 6-4-3 double play that enabled Greene to advance to third, Clemens lined an RBI single into center to stake the hosts to a 1-0 lead.

St. Paul jumped in front with three runs on four hits in the top of the fourth. Mark Contreras doubled off the left-field wall, and came home when Gilberto Celestino blooped a double of his own down the right-field line to knot the score at one apiece. Later in the frame, Sherman Johnson whacked a two-out RBI double to right-center, and scored on Drew Maggi’s triple to deep right-center.

The Saints added a pair of insurance runs an inning later. With the bases loaded and two outs, Jimmy Kerrigan grounded a base hit up the middle that brought home Jose Miranda and Trevor Larnach.

St. Paul’s sixth and final run came in the top of the sixth. J.T. Riddle pulled a double down the right-field line, and eventually scored when Trevor Larnach singled into right.

The Mud Hens cut into their deficit with a three-spot in the bottom of the sixth. Paredes and Rodríguez drew back-to-back walks to lead off the frame, before Stewart lined a base hit into right to load the bases with nobody out. After Paredes scored on a wild pitch, Policelli grounded a double down the right-field line to plate Rodríguez and Stewart and cut the deficit to 6-4, which remained the score until Rodríguez’s game-tying heroics.

What’s Next:
The Mud Hens look to remain perfect against the Saints when the teams resume their six-game series on Friday at Fifth Third Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

Hens Notes:
• Niko Goodrum
began a rehab assignment with the Mud Hens on Thursday.
• The Mud Hens are 2-4 in games decided in extra innings.**
• Wladimir Pinto** tallied his first win of the season, despite allowing an unearned run in the top of the 11th inning.

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