Bowling Green, Ky. - Justin Higley's two-out RBI triple in the top of the 12th gave Beloit its first run in nine innings and the necessary cushion to fend off Bowling Green, 4-3 in 12 innings, to end the Hot Rods five-game win streak in front of a season-best crowd of 4,476 fans at Bowling Green Ballpark Friday evening.
All-Star Casey Gillaspie homered for the second straight game - the third time this season he has accomplished that and the second time in the last eight games - for his league-best 14th bomb of the year to lead a nine-hit attack, but the story was Bowling Green's (35-26) pitching in a losing effort.
All-Star Brent Honeywell fanned a career-high 11 batters over 7.0 strong innings - one strikeout shy of the Hot Rods franchise record - while surrendering only two hits - both home runs to Western Division All-Stars Sandber Pimentel and Trent Gilbert. All-Star reliever Hunter Wood slammed the door over the following 4.0 innings, permitting just a Gilbert double in the 11th, while punching out a season-high eight. In all, BG pitching struck out 19 Snappers (25-36) in setting a new season-standard and finishing one shy of the franchise record of 20, which was posted on Aug. 5, 2013 at South Bend.
Robert Martinez led off that decisive 12th for Beloit with a single against Brian Miller (2-2), but Miller bounced back to sit down the next two batters. However, with two down, Higley blistered the first pitch he saw to the left-centerfield gap past the outfield and slid feet first into third with his first RBI since being re-assigned to Beloit five games ago resulting in the 4-3 lead.
Gillaspie drew a four-pitch walk in the bottom of the 12th from reliever Rob Huber (2-3) and stole his second base of the game with Justin Williams batting, but Williams ended the game by grounding out to second.
Beloit grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first, made possible by Grant Kay's two-out throwing error and immediately followed by Pimentel's laser shot over the left-centerfield fence for his team-leading 10th home run of the year.
Not to be outdone, Gillaspie pasted a 2-1 pitch from Daniel Gossett with two outs in the bottom half over the video board in right-centerfield, inching Bowling Green within 2-1. Gillaspie has hit five home runs over his last eight games.
Honeywell gave up his final hit with one out in the third, a solo home run by Gilbert for his fourth of the campaign and a 3-1 Beloit edge.
From there, the eighth-best prospect in the Rays system flashed his enormous potential retiring the next 11 batters, seven on strikeouts, and worked around two base runners in the seventh to tie a career-high in innings pitched in a hard-luck no-decision.
In the bottom of the third, new Hot Rod Alec Sole knocked his first double of the season to leadoff, moved to third on Riley Unroe's flyout and scored on a Gossett wild pitch, cutting the deficit to 2-1.
That count lasted until the fifth, when Unroe and Jace Conrad notched consecutive singles to start, with Unroe eventually tying the game, 3-3, coming plateward on Bralin Jackson's two-out RBI single.
Gossett, the 15h ranked prospect in the Athletics farm system, worked 5.0 innings giving up three runs on six hits while walking three and fanning five in a no-decision. Beloit's bullpen filled the void, though, as Kevin Johnson, Jose Torres and Huber hummed 7.0 shutout frames with only three hits allowed.
Two of those came in the 10th against Torres, as Conrad hustled into second for a leadoff double on a groundball to shallow centerfield, and raced towards home with the walkoff run in tow on Gillaspie's single to centerfield, but Conrad was thrown out at the plate by former Hot Rod outfielder James Harris to keep the affair tied.
Conrad, Gillaspie and Jackson all had two hits apiece, but Bowling Green went just 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position after hitting .586 (17-for-29) in those situations over the previous two games.
Saturday night sees the Hot Rods welcome the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Brewers) to town for a three-game series, with game one set for a 7:05 first pitch. Bowling Green sends right-hander Greg Harris (3-4, 2.42) to the hill against Timber Rattlers southpaw Kodi Medeiros (2-2, 4.21), who was the 12th overall pick by Milwaukee in the 2014 Draft.
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