Hunter Hargrove gave the Beloit Snappers (49-44) the lead for good and they never looked back, defeating the Bowling Green Hot Rods (64-31) 7-3 at Pohlman Field Wednesday night in front of 2,489 fans.
Hargrove drove in three runs on a double to the left center gap with the bases loaded in the third inning, clearing the bases and putting the Snappers on top 3-1, never looking back.
With the Snappers down 1-0 in the bottom of the third and two outs away, leadoff man Nick Allen doubled. Lazaro Armenteros was hit by a pitch and Austin Beck walked after to load the bases for Hargrove.
This series is especially exciting because it pits both first place teams in the Midwest League thus far in the second half. The Hot Rods came in four games ahead of the Lansing Lugnuts for first place in the Eastern division and won their last three series coming in. The Snappers were tied with Cedar Rapids for first in the Western side.
Leading 4-2 in the sixth inning, the Snappers padded their lead with a two-RBI single from Lazaro Armenteros that plated Jesus Lopez and Jordan Devencenzi to extend the lead to 6-2.
Armenteros finished 1-for-4 with those two runs batted in, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. Over the streak, he is batting .359 with eight RBI.
The Snappers would add two more runs in the fourth and eighth inning combined. In the fourth, Ryan Gridley doubled to center field to score Devencenzi again. In the eighth, leading 6-3, Allen flied out to right but it scored Jack Meggs from third to make it a sac fly and the score 7-3.
Snappers starter Jean Ruiz was efficient and stayed ahead of Hot Rods most of the night, earning his third straight win of the season. He finished with six complete innings allowing just two runs, neither earned, five hits and two walks with a strikeout.
The Hot Rods scored first in the third inning on an RBI double from Carl Chester to score Vidal Brujan. They scored a run in the sixth and seventh inning as well, but their league leading offense sputtered for just seven hits and were 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
Hot Rods starter Alex Valverde took the loss, his sixth of the season, going five innings and surrendering six earned runs.
The Snappers bullpen came on and continued to be a difference maker over the team's hot streak. In three innings of relief, they racked up seven strikeouts and just one walk between Jaimito Lebron, Joseph Camacho and Seth Martinez.
For Martinez, he came on with one runner on and two away in the ninth and got a one out save. It was his 12th save of the season, leading the team and ranking inside the top five in the Midwest league. He also pushed his consecutive scoreless inning streak to 16 complete innings.
The Snappers came in and remained just as hot. They had won their last four series coming in, after taking two of three on the road at South Bend and sweeping West Michigan to end their six-game road trip.
The win left the Snappers having won their 12 of their 13 games an 16-11 on the year in series openers. Allen's double in the third inning gave the Snappers at least one extra base hit in 26 of their last 27 games.
The Snappers will resume game two of the series with the Hot Rods on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. Starting for the Snappers will be left-hander Ivan Andueza (1-5, 4.95). He will be opposed by the Hot Rods right hander Tommy Romero (3-0, 2.13).
Come out for a Two Dollar Thursday promotion. Hot dogs, brats, pizza, 12 oz. domestic draft beer and fountain soft drinks can be purchased for just $2. Presented by your friends at Advia Credit Union.
The Beloit Snappers are a member of the Midwest League and have been the Single-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics since 2013. For more ticket information, contact the Snappers office at (608) 362-2272 or on our website, www.snappersbaseball.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.