BOWLING GREEN, KY - First, the Bowling Green Hot Rods broke the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers hearts with a spectacular rally-killing catch to hold onto their one run lead in the top of the eighth. Then, they crushed Wisconsin's spirits with a three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth. The Hot Rods defeated Wisconsin 6-2 in game one of a three game series at Bowling Green Ballpark on Wednesday night.
The Hot Rods (55-39 overall, 17-9 second half) had two outs and none on in the bottom of the second inning. Marty Gantt singled and stole second. Joey Rickard followed with a single to center and Gantt just beat the throw to the plate to score the first run of the game. The throw home allowed Rickard to take second base. Then, Patrick Leonard singled to knock in Rickard for a 2-0 lead.
Wisconsin (40-50, 11-14) evened the game in the top of the fifth. Parker Berberet drew a walk with one out. Chris McFarland launched a two-run homer to left two pitches later to tie the game 2-2.
Leonard put Bowling Green back in front in the bottom of the seventh inning. He stepped in with runners at first and second with one out and grounded a single through the left side of the infield. Leonardo Reginatto, who started the inning with a bunt single, scored from second on the play and the Hot Rods were up 3-2.
Wisconsin tried to put together a rally in the top of the eighth. McFarland and Alfredo Rodriguez walked to start the frame. Michael Reed tried to bunt the runners along, but he bunted into a force out at third base. Tyrone Taylor was next and he singled sharply to left. But, the ball was hit too hard and Rodriguez had to hold at third base as the Rattlers loaded the bases. Mike Garza's slow chopper to short was cut off by third baseman Tyler Goedell and his throw to the plate was in time for the force out on Rodriguez.
Victor Roache was next and he sent a deep line drive to right field. But, Rickard raced back to the warning track, leapt, and robbed Roache of extra bases with a highlight reel catch to end the inning and maintain the 3-2 lead for the Hot Rods
Bowling Green added to their lead in the bottom of the eighth. Justin O'Conner hit a three-run home run to left and the Hot Rods were up 6-2.
Garton worked a scoreless ninth to nail down the win for the Hot Rods.
Game two of the series is Thursday night at Bowling Green Ballpark. Ryan Gibbard (4-2, 5.20) is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Dylan Floro (7-2, 1.73) is set to start for the Hot Rods. Game time is 7:05pm. Tune in for the broadcast on AM1280, WNAM or IHeartRadio starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 6:45pm.
Chris McFarland (3rd, 1 on in 5th inning off Blake Snell, 1 out)
Justin O'Conner (8th 2 on in 8th inning off Leonard Lorenzo, 1 out)
WP: Blake Snell (3-6)
LP: Leonard Lorenzo (2-5)
SAVE: Ryan Garton (7)