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Wathan has the game of his life

Bisons backstop belts three homers, drives home nine in 13-1 win
June 2, 2005
In a life full of baseball, Dusty Wathan has never had the kind of game he had Thursday, when he hit three home runs -- including a grand slam -- and had a club-record nine RBIs in the Buffalo Bisons' 13-1 win over the visiting Toledo Mud Hens.

The usually light-hitting catcher Wathan, whose father, John, played and managed a combined 15 years in the Major Leagues, hit a two-run homer in the fourth, a three-run shot in the fifth and a grand slam in the eighth.

The 31-year-old veteran told Bisons' radio broadcaster Jim Rosenhaus that, to the best of his recollection, he'd never hit more than one homer in a game, "not even in tee ball."

Asked whether he was swinging for the fences in his final at-bat, Wathan said, "No, definitely not. If anything, I was just trying to get the ball into the outfield to pick up another RBI, maybe get a sacrifice fly, end the game on a positive note."

Wathan actually had a chance to drive in even more runs. In the sixth, he came to the plate with the bases loaded, but was walked after a wild pitch allowed a run to score and left first base open.

Wathan's output nearly matched his totals for the entire season, as he entered the game with four home runs and 10 RBIs in 25 games. Over the course of his 12-year Minor League career, the 6-foot-4 backstop has averaged just over three longballs per year, with a total of 39 entering the 2005 season.

Overshadowed by the offensive heroics was a solid outing by Buffalo starter Francisco Cruceta, who allowed just one run on five hits in five innings while striking out six. Cruceta (5-1) handed an 8-1 lead to the bullpen, and Kenny Rayborn and Fernando Cabrera each pitched two scoreless innings.

Toledo got its only run on an RBI double by Kevin Hooper in the top of the fifth. Hooper and Ryan Raburn each had two of the Mud Hens' seven hits.

Kenny Baugh (4-4) took the loss, allowing eight runs -- seven earned -- on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings.

Wathan joined Jeff Manto as the only Bisons to hit three home runs in the 18-year history of Dunn Tire Park. Manto accomplished the feat against Iowa on July 14, 1997. Wathan's nine RBIs also broke the Bisons' modern-era record for set by Earl Snyder on June 13, 2002, in Syracuse. -- Jason Ratliff/