Bowling Green, KY- The Hot Rods pounded out 21 hits and set a franchise record for largest margin of victory in a 17-0 win over the South Bend Cubs on Wednesday, ending a nine-game homestand. The Hot Rods improve to 22-17 ahead of an eight-game road trip beginning with Thursday's series opener against the Lake County Captains, which has a 5:30 PM CDT first pitch.
Matthew Liberatore made his season debut starting for Bowling Green and worked around a pair of two-out singles in the first. Afterwards, the Hot Rods struck for the first time, as Ford Proctor cleared the wall in right-center with his third home run of the season. The blast was a solo shot that gave the Hot Rods a 1-0 lead.
With an early lead in hand, Liberatore set down eight-consecutive Cubs over the third, fourth, and fifth innings. In the bottom of the fifth, the offense provided more breathing room against South Bend reliever Zach Mort. After a leadoff double by Wander Franco, Jake Palomaki reached on a two-out error to extend the inning. Tony Pena followed with a two-run double down the right-field line, scoring both runners to push the lead to 3-0, Bowling Green.
An inning later, the Hot Rods broke the game open against Mort and the Cubs. Kaleo Johnson singled to left with the bases loaded and one out, bringing in two runs. Two batters later, Palomaki tripled to right-center to score two more runs. Palomaki scored on a wild pitch later in the inning, extending the lead to 8-0.
The Hot Rods weren't done, though. In the seventh, Franco drew a bases-loaded walk, to add another run. An inning later, the Hot Rods strung together eight hits, with Chris Betts polishing off the rout with a grand slam over the right field bullpen off South Bend infielder Rafael Narea, who finished the game on the mound. The slam was the first for the Hot Rods this season and Betts fifth homer of the year, making it 17-0, Bowling Green, the eventual final score.
Liberatore (1-0) went 5.0 shutout innings, allowing four hits and a walk while striking out four in earning the win. Miller Hogan went 3.0 innings in his Hot Rods debut, allowing two hits and striking out two. Nick Padilla finished off the game, allowing a hit, but facing the minimum in a scoreless ninth inning.
Notes: All nine Hot Rods had multiple hits…Eight players had at least one run and one RBI for BG…Betts' grand slam was the first slam for a Hot Rod since Ronaldo Hernandez on June 1, 2018… He became the first Hot Rod to have two hits in an innings since Emilio Gustave did it on June 1, 2018 against the West Michigan White Caps in the fourth inning… He's the first BG batter to have four or more RBI in a game since Kaleo Johnson had four against the Fort Wayne TinCaps on April 24… It's the second time this season Betts has driven in four runs in a game… Johnson has an eight-game hitting streak… He also tied a career-high with three hits… Franco has hit safely in four-straight games and has three-consecutive multi-hit contests…Pena has a four-game hitting streak… His three hits set a new personal season-high.. Liberatore tied a career-high with 5.0 Innings pitched, the fourth time he has reached that mark…He's also won three-straight decisions dating back to last season…The eight-run eighth inning is the most scored in one inning by the Hot Rods this year and the most since a ten-run fourth inning on June 1, 2018 vs. Lansing… BG's 21 hits is a new season-high and is two shy of the franchise record of 23, set on April 15, 2012…The Hot Rods recorded 20 or more hits for the first time since May 28, 2018 vs. Dayton…The 17 runs is the most scored by Bowling Green since a 17-6 win over Lake County on June 11, 2017…It surpasses a 15-0 win over West Michigan on July 26, 2014 for the largest margin of victory in franchise history…Bowling Green reached double-digit runs for the fourth time season…The Hot Rods are 3-5 in shutouts this season…BG is 19-9 against right-handed starters…The Hot Rods are 19-4 when they out-hit their opponent…The Hot Rods are 7-2 in day games this season, including wins in all three Education Day games…Bowling Green is 88-80 all-time against South Bend, 45-41 at Bowling Green Ballpark…The Hot Rods will travel to Lake County to begin a three-game series against the Lake County Captains with a 5:30 p.m. CDT first pitch on Thursday night...RHP Caleb Sampen (2-2, 3.86) will start for the Hot Rods, while RHP Juan Mota (1-5, 5.48) gets the ball for Lake County…Fans can catch all the action with Shawn Murnin on Willie 107.9 FM, as well as, with their smart phones via the MiLB First Pitch app and TuneIn Radio app.
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