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Columbus pounds Mud Hens

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Columbus pounds Mud Hens

By JOHN WAGNER BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Brian Bixler's dream for this season was to have a big game while playing a hour away from his Sandusky home.

Last night Bixler saw that dream come true. Well, sort of.

Bixler slugged a pair of home runs to lead Columbus to a 7-1 win over the Mud Hens at Fifth Third Field. The only problem for Bixler was that he was hoping to have that big game in Cleveland for the Indians rather than for their Triple-A affiliate while playing in Toledo.

"It would be great to get to Cleveland, and I hope that I can get there," Bixler said. "But being in Columbus, and playing in Toledo and some other places close [to home] is fine too.

Bixler originally was drafted by the Pirates in 2004 and spent the previous two years with Indianapolis while seeing some time with Pittsburgh. He was traded to the Indians in January and is batting .279 in his first 12 Columbus games.

"My role now is as a super-utility guy, playing in the infield and outfield and bouncing around everywhere," he said. "I'm just trying to stay consistent at the plate, show them what I can do and hopefully get a [big-league] opportunity."

Bixler cranked a two-run homer that capped a three-run fourth, then added a solo shot leading off the eighth.

"On the first home run, I was looking for a fastball, but I got a breaking ball up in the zone and I recognized it early so I was able to put a good swing on it," Bixler said. "I was looking for the fastball, but I recognized it and was able to connect.

"On the second home run I was looking for the fastball, and when I got it, I drove it."

Another player who looked to be at home at Fifth Third Field last night was Deik Scram.

The newest Mud Hens' Saturday actually began late Friday, after he slugged a ninth-inning home run that helped Double-A Erie win at Altoona. He was called into manager Phil Nevin's office to get the good news, then began his journey to Toledo.

"I left at 4:30 a.m. to drive from Altoona, Pa., to Pittsburgh," Scram said. "Then I flew from Pittsburgh to Chicago, then Chicago to Toledo. I got here around 12:30 p.m."

There didn't seem to be much jet lag in Scram's bat as the 26-year-old doubled in his first two at-bats. "He swung the bat pretty well," Hens manager Larry Parrish said. "He was aggressive, gave us a couple of doubles, and did a good job."

In last night's game, the Clippers scored a run in the third on a two-out RBI double by Jason Donald, then broke the game open with a three-run fourth off Toledo starter Phil Dumatrait.

Carlos Santana led off the frame with a home run down the left-field line, and one out later a Wes Hodges double was followed by Bixler's first homer.

"They got a lot of extra-base hits on [Dumatrait's] change-up, almost as if he was tipping them," Parrish said. "I don't know that he was, but they did seem to put a couple of good ones into play."

The Hens got a run back in the bottom of the fourth when Brent Dlugach was hit by a Carlos Carrasco pitch, Scram doubled, and Dlugach came home on a groundout by Robinzon Diaz.

But Columbus added single runs in the sixth, seventh, and eighth to pull away.

"This was a game where we were a little bit ragged, both on the mound and on defense," Parrish said. "Right now we can't afford to do that. We can't out-hit that; we're not putting enough points on the board to overcome that."

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com or 419-724-6481.

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