TOLEDO, Ohio - The Toledo Mud Hens celebrated Opening Day with a 4-3 victory over the Pawtucket Red Sox before a sold-out crowd of 13,018 on Thursday at Fifth Third Field.
Playing in front of the third-largest Opening Day crowd in franchise history and sixth-largest attendance in Fifth Third Field history, Blaine Hardy tossed 3.1 shutout innings, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out five. Hardy got the start in place of fellow southpaw Chad Bell , who was promoted to Detroit earlier in the day.
Zac Reininger was credited with the win for the Mud Hens (5-2) after recording two scoreless innings and striking out a pair, while Louis Coleman closed the door in the ninth to pick up the save. Justin Haley threw five innings for Pawtucket (2-4), giving up seven hits on three earned runs and four walks while striking out five in a losing cause.
Toledo took advantage of the sunny, 72-degree weather, notching 10 hits on the afternoon, including a pair of solo shots. Dawel Lugo was one of four Mud Hens to record multiple hits, going 2-for-5 with two singles to extend his hit streak to seven consecutive games. Chad Huffman also finished 2-for-3 with a home run, a single, and a walk.
The Mud Hens broke the scoreless tie with a run in the bottom of the third. Pete Kozma led off the frame with a triple into the gap in left-center, and scored when Ronny Rodriguez grounded a base hit through the left side to give Toledo a 1-0 lead.
Huffman doubled the Mud Hens' advantage with his first home run of the campaign. Leading off the bottom of the fourth, Huffman blasted a 1-0 pitch over the wall in left-center to put Toledo in front by a 2-0 margin.
After Jeremy Barfield hit a leadoff home run in the top of the fifth to left to get Pawtucket on the board, Toledo restored its two-run cushion in the bottom of the frame. Christin Stewart and Huffman picked up back-to-back walks before Jim Adduci singled on a sharp line drive to right to plate Stewart and make it a 3-1 ballgame.
Edwin Espinal started the bottom of the eighth with a bang, scoring what proved to be the game-winning run when he uncorked a solo home run off the top of the scoreboard in left to extend the Mud Hens' lead to 4-1.
The Red Sox did not go away quietly, scoring twice in the top of the ninth. Mike Olt picked up a walk before Ramon Flores sent a two-run home run to right to cut Toledo's lead to 4-3. Pawtucket had runners on first and second with one out later in the inning, but Coleman retired the next two batters he faced to wrap up the contest.
The Mud Hens return to Fifth Third Field tomorrow night for game two of their four-game set against Pawtucket. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.