Pina strikes lightning with walk-off homer in finale

By Matthew Zmuda / Toledo Mud Hens | September 3, 2015 7:36 PM

The Hens have had, as one might say, a forgetful season record wise, struggling on both ends of the baseball. However, there's been no shortage of memorable moments at Fifth Third Field this season. From Justin Verlander's rehab start, to Mike Hessman's record breaking home run, fans have been treated to nightly entertainment at the corner of Washington Street in downtown Toledo. Thursday night was the final home game for the Mud Hens in their 2015 season. Taking the ball for Larry Parrish's squad was Thad Weber, the Hens' most consistent starter throughout the up and down 2015 campaign.

Coming off three straight victories while silencing the Louisville offense, the Bats' offense finally got themselves off to a quicker start on Thusday off the right handed Weber. Irving Falu brought home Josciel Veras on an RBI single for the first run of the ball game in the third. Louisville was back at it in the fourth as Hernan Iribarren trucked all the way around to score from first on a Josciel Veras triple to the wall in right. Chad Tromp followed the extra base hit with one of his own, doubling home Veras and putting his team up 3-0 against the Hens.

With Toledo coming to bat in the fifth, the game took an unexpected turn as lightning struck high in the sky above Fifth Third Field delaying the game for 2 hours and 11 minutes.

After the delay, the Hens immediately put together a quick scoring threat on the base paths as Dixon Machado started the frame with a single and was replaced by pinch runner Alexi Casilla. Steven Moya knocked a single of his own to center allowing Casilla to move all the way around to third on the play. With Hens at first and third, Jefry Marte slugged his twenty fourth double of the year scoring Casilla and moving Moya up to third. Bats' starter Donovan Hand was watching what he thought was a win go up in smoke as Corey Jones tied the score, bringing around both runners with a line drive to center field.

In his final start of the season, the three early runs were the only surrendered by Thad Weber, as the veteran finished the season with a 6-10 record and a 4.19 ERA. Alberto Cabrera and Joe Mantiply followed Weber in relief throwing four combined innings of scoreless ball and keeping the score tied headed into the bottom of the ninth.

The night was filled with patience and persistence by loyal Toledo fans looking to go home satisfied as the Hens looked to put up one run in the ninth. Louisville's Joel Bender retired Alexi Casilla and Steven Moya effortlessly to start the frame and it seemed as if the marathon of a game was headed to extras. However, the Bats' manager headed out of the dugout and summoned Jose De la Torre to record to final out of the ninth. The Hen he was trying to retire happened to be the hottest hitter in the lineup for the final stretch of the season, Manny Pina. The team leader in batting average made the most of his chance against De la Torre as he sent a first pitch fastball deep into the night and over the wall in the most dramatic fashion as the Hens walked off for their fourth straight win. Joe Mantiply earned the win in relief.

So all in all from first pitch to walk off homer, fans were treated to a four hour and one minute night at the ballpark filled with lightning in the sky and lightning off the bat of Manny Pina, one last time.

Toledo takes its act on the road for the final four games of the season in Indianapolis and Columbus as they look to keep the winning streak alive. First pitch is set for 7:15 Friday against the first place Indians.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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