Toledo Mud Hens third baseman Wade Gaynor is congratulated by his teammates after he scores a run. Blade/Jetta Fraser
Tyler Collins ambushed the Buffalo Bisons.
Collins sparked a home-plate celebration by the Mud Hens at Fifth Third Field on Sunday, slamming a walk-off two-run homer in the 11th inning of a 3-1 victory.
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view more photos
Collins came to the plate with Hernan Perez on first base and one out in the 11th. After taking a fastball from Bisons reliever Ryan Tepera, Toledo’s left fielder said he was looking for a breaking pitch to hit.
“I knew that Buffalo hasn’t thrown me consecutive fastballs to start an at-bat,” Collins said. “So after I saw the first-pitch fastball, I eliminated it.
“That takes a whole speed away. I sat off-speed, he threw me a splitter over the plate, and I put a good swing on it.”
And Collins did not miss it, pounding it well over the right-field fence for his eighth home run of the season — not to mention Toledo’s fifth walk-off win of 2014.
It capped a contest where the Mud Hens struggled to score runs, but stayed in the contest because starter Kyle Lobstein and four relievers held the Bisons to one run.
“It was good to get a win after our [pitching] staff threw so well,” Collins said. “Lobstein allowed one run, and our bullpen was nasty. Any time we can capitalize on [our pitchers] giving up one run, you’ve got to do that.”
Lobstein allowed just five hits in six innings, but also issued five walks and had only one 1-2-3 inning. But he stranded eight baserunners, and managed to get outs when he needed them.
Buffalo’s run came in the second as A.J. Jimenez doubled, took third on a groundout, and scored on a single by Andy LaRoche. That rally could have been bigger as Munenori Kawasaki walked and Colby Rasmus singled, but Hens rightfielder Ben Guez threw out LaRoche at home plate on the Rasmus single.
The Bisons had runners in scoring position against Lobstein in every other inning but the fifth, but were just 2-for-10 when batting with a runner in scoring position against him.
Buffalo loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, only to see Corey Knebel, who was optioned to Toledo by the Tigers before the game, snuff the rally. He struck out Brad Glenn on a 97-mph fastball, then got Jimenez to pop out weakly to second base on an 81-mph curveball.
“Whoo, he was dealing,” Mud Hens manager Larry Parrish said of Knebel. “He had a better downhill plane and was in better control than when he first came up.
“He’s got a great arm. It’s just a matter of keeping the ball down and using his other stuff.”
Knebel also retired the Bisons in order in the eighth, while Kevin Whelan pitched a scoreless ninth and Chad Smith used a snappy double play in the 11th to finish with two scoreless innings.
The problem was the Hens’ offense struggled against Buffalo starter Liam Hendriks. Toledo managed just four hits and five baserunners before tying the game in the seventh.
Wade Gaynor doubled to lead off that inning, took third on a groundout and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jordan Lennerton.
But that was just about it for Toledo until Collins’ game-winning homer in the 11th.
NOTES: Mike Hessman was scratched from the Hens lineup before the game because of lingering wrist issues. Parrish said he was uncertain when Hessman would return to the lineup. ... Toledo now is 4-2 in extra-inning games, including a 2-1 mark at Fifth Third Field.