Manning shows off new slider to sold-out crowd

    Toledo Mud Chickens

June 15, 2024 – International League (IL)
Toledo Mud Hens news story

The Mud Hens entered Saturday night’s game on a three-game losing streak. That didn’t stop fans from heading downtown, though, as Fifth Third Field was sold out with 10,300 fans! Although the Hens came out strong, their finish was not enough to beat the Storm Chasers as they fell 7-4.

The Storm Chasers got on the board early. Matt Manning searched his arsenal of pitches early, but Omaha took advantage of the runners on the corners by prompting Dillon Dingler to pick off second when Nate Eaton stole home plate.

“Next year they (Detroit) wanted him (Manning) to throw harder,” Tim Federowics said. “He’s started throwing a splitter, which is really nasty, and he has a new slider that has more gyro and more depth than his sweeper. I think his new arsenal is contributing to these punchouts.”

The Hens had their response ready, however, when Parker Meadows brought Austin Cox 130 yards up the middle to make it a 1-1 game.

After Manning’s one, two, three second inning, Toledo continued to show their aggressive approach in the batter’s box. A single by Bligh Madris and a walk by Jace Jung got Andrew Navigato off to a perfect start. Navigato continued his hot streak with a two-RBI double down the left field line to take a 3–1 lead.

Now chasing Toledo’s lead, Omaha got right back to work to open the third inning. They managed to cut the Mud Hens’ lead when a John Rave double put Cam Devanney at third and brought Eaton to the plate. Eaton would take one of Manning’s fastballs deep into right-center field, but a fly ball by Madris limited the ball to a sacrifice fly.

The Storm Chasers would eventually catch up to the Hens in the bottom of the fifth. Devanney hit a well-placed double down the left field line to score Tyler Gentry from first base. Omaha then took the lead after two Manning strikeouts, as a single by Devin Mann would bring in Devanney.

That would conclude Manning’s time on the mound, as he finished with seven strikeouts. Lefty Lael Lockhart would piggyback off Manning to start the sixth inning. He got off to a strong start with two strikeouts to open the inning, but things would take an unfortunate turn from there. Gentry doubled on a fastball up the middle and then scored thanks to a single by Devanney to make it a 5-3 game.

From there, Lockhart and the Hens would rebound in the seventh with a three-hitter inning that featured two strikeouts and a Dingler throwout.

But at the plate, Toledo’s aggressive approach started to hurt them. After Omaha took the lead in the top of the sixth inning and William Pennington took over for Anthony Simonelli, the Hens saw only two baserunners in the sixth and seventh inning.

“We did a good job early,” Federowics said. “I think they noticed later in the game how aggressive we were and they countered that with a couple of breaking balls just outside the zone.”

Lockhart, a usual starter, would allow the Storm Chasers to extend their lead with a solo shot from Brian O’Keefe.

The Mud Hens started to claw their way back in the bottom of the eighth when Tyler Duffey took the mound. Dingler got things started with a single, which was his first hit after his fifteen-game streak ended. He then took third when Ryan Vilade doubled to right-center. Toledo ended the inning trailing 6-4 after Dingler scored on a groundout by Madris.

In the final inning of the game, Easton Lucas would take the mound for the Hens. Omaha was able to extend their lead with an RBI single by CJ Alexander, allowing Devanney to score from second.

Downtown Toledo erupted as Fifth Third Field flashed the rally lights. The sellout crowd caused a stir for closer Evan Sisk, but he persevered as the Mud Hens officially fell 7-4.

The Hens will try to break their four-game skid Sunday in the series finale with Omaha at 2:05 p.m


Parker Meadows (2-5, HR, RBI, R)

Matt Manning (L, 5 IP, 4 R, 4 ER, BB, 7 K, 0 HR)

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