Clinton, IA - The series between the Clinton LumberKings and Bowling Green Hot Rods got off to a thrilling, but disappointing start, Saturday night at Ashford University Field. Hot Rods reliever Nick Sawyer struck out Brock Hebert with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth to lock down a 3-2 win.
Clinton trailed 3-1 going into the ninth and their chances looked bleak when Patrick Kivlehan and Guillermo Pimentel were retired to start the inning. Gaby Guerrero and Dario Pizzano drew consecutive walks before Tyler Marlette delivered a clutch run-scoring single off Brandon Henderson to cut the lead to 3-2.
Bowling Green Manager Jared Sandberg summoned Sawyer from the bullpen to face Taylor Ard. Sawyer promptly walked Ard on four pitches to load the bases. Hebert worked the count full against Sawyer before taking a called third strike to end the game.
Starters Dylan Unsworth and Eduar Quinonez were brilliant as both put zeros on the board through the fifth inning. Clinton finally got to Quinonez in the sixth when Ketel Marte walked and promptly stole second and third. With a drawn in infield, Patrick Kivlehan rifled a ball past shortstop Tyler Goeddel to give Clinton a 1-0 lead. The single extended Kivlehan's hitting streak to nine games.
Unsworth tossed six shutout innings and was relieved by Blake Hauser to begin the seventh. Catcher Luke Maile singled then stole second and tied the game on Marty Gantt's RBI double. The next batter, Granden Goetzman, hit a two-run homer down the left-field line to give Bowling Green a 3-1 lead. The home run was disputed by LumberKings Manager Eddie Menchaca.
Henderson earned the win (1-0) in relief and Hauser (0-3) was tagged with the loss. Sawyer notched the save (2) for Bowling Green. The series continues Sunday afternoon at Ashford University Field. The LumberKings send left-hander Scott DeCecco (2-3, 3.21) to the mound against Bowling Green right-hander Taylor Guerrieri (1-0, 2.12). First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 PM CT.