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Tempers flare in losing battle for Mud Hens

05/19/2017, 12:25am EDT

Dugouts clear, both managers ejected in scrum during 11-2 loss to Louisville

Toledo manager Mike Rojas has words for Louisville manager Delino DeShields, not shown, while being held back by Mud Hens first baseman Efren Navarro. Rojas and DeShields were ejected during Toledo's loss. BLADE/JETTA FRASER

At first glance, the Toledo Mud Hens suffered a ho-hum 11-2 butt-whipping at the hands of Louisville at Fifth Third Field on Thursday.

But the lopsided loss, which snapped a three-game Toledo win streak, provided plenty of on-field fireworks in the eighth inning — and the excitement had nothing to do with hitting, pitching, or fielding.

Instead, a sellout crowd of 10,500 mostly schoolchildren were “entertained” by both teams taking the field in a scrum caused by ruffled feathers in both dugouts after the unwritten rules of baseball were violated in back-to-back blowouts.

IN PICTURES: Louisville 11, Mud Hens 2

For Louisville manager Delino DeShields, the problems began in the late innings of Wednesday’s game, which saw the Hens crush the Bats 16-2.

“JaCoby Jones was up while we had a position player [Hernan Iribarren] on the mound, and [Jones] swung out of his butt on a 3-0 pitch,” DeShields explained. “To me, that’s where it started.”

For Toledo manager Mike Rojas, the hard feelings were caused in the sixth inning Thursday, with the Bats already in command 10-2. Louisville’s Tony Renda was running on a pitch that teammate Sebastian Elizalde hit for a sacrifice fly.

“When you run and your team is up by eight runs in the sixth inning, I think that’s stupid,” Rojas said. “That’s not the game of baseball.”

Tempers started to flare when Hens reliever Mike Zagurski hit the next batter, Brandon Dixon.

“Renda made a bone-headed play,” DeShields admitted. 

“But then I saw them give the orders to hit Dixon, and that’s when I got [angry].

“If you’re going to do that, don’t let me see that. When I saw that, that was the end for me.”

Rojas denied calling for Zagurski to hit Dixon.

The pot boiled over in the bottom of the eighth, when Bats reliever Nick Christiani threw a pitch up and in to Jones. 

Both managers began yelling at one another from the top step of their respective dugouts.

Home plate umpire Charlie Ramos attempted to diffuse the situation by ejecting both managers, but instead both came onto the field and continued yelling at one another.

Soon, both teams had spilled onto the field as well. No punches were thrown, but plenty of yelling and arguing took place before order was restored.

“For me, it’s over,” DeShields said afterward. “I have a lot of respect for Mike — he’s an outstanding baseball man.

“But we’re both out there competing. He was fighting for his guys, and I’m definitely going to fight for mine.”

Rojas agreed, adding, “I don’t see this going anywhere. Whatever had to be said has been said.”

The two teams, who have played seven times in the past 14 days, will not meet again until a three-game series at Louisville’s Slugger Field starting June 9.

As for this game, starting pitching determined the outcome as Toledo’s Drew VerHagen struggled while Louisville’s Cody Reed was impressive.

VerHagen gave up a run in the first, then a three-run homer to Iribarren in the third before imploding in the fourth.

In that inning, the right-hander allowed six hits and two walks — eight straight Bats reached base after the first out was recorded — and VerHagen finished with a line that included 10 hits and 10 runs allowed in just four innings of work.

“He just didn’t have anything,” Rojas said of VerHagen. “He left a lot of pitches up, and they put some good swings on them.

“You tip your hat to the other club and you move on.”

Reed certainly deserved a tip of the cap, allowing just two baserunners in the first four innings on a Jones single and a walk. 

The hard-throwing lefty surrendered a two-run homer to Bryan Holaday in the fifth, but finished with nine strikeouts and just four hits allowed in seven innings of work.

“That was definitely something to build on,” DeShields said of Reed. 

“I think he lost some confidence in the big leagues last year and, hopefully, he’s getting back on track.

“He and [pitching coach] Jeff Fassero have been working on some things with his mechanics, and he showed some good things.”

NOTES: After the game, Rojas said John Hicks was promoted to Detroit and will join the Tigers as they begins a series at home against Texas today. But after the Tigers game ended, manager Brad Ausmus said his team would call up pitcher Buck Farmer instead. ... Farmer will replace Victor Martinez on the roster as Martinez takes a three-game paternity leave. … Miguel Gonzalez was promoted from Double-A Erie to take Farmer’s spot on the Toledo roster. … The Mud Hens will play a doubleheader at Indianapolis today starting at 5:30 p.m. The twinbill was caused by a rainout in Indianapolis on May 4.

Contact John Wagner at:, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.

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Toledo’s Bryan Holaday hits a two-run home run in the fifth inning during the Hens’ loss to Louisville on Thursday. BLADE/JETTA FRASER

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