BOWLING GREEN, KY - The Bowling Green Hot Rods walked off the Dayton Dragons Thursday night, opening up the 2018 season with a thrilling 5-4 win. The Hot Rods jumped out to an early lead, but the Dragons responded and got a lead of their own. But the Hot Rods had the final say, scoring in each of the final two innings to claim the win.
Drew Strotman got the start for the Hot Rods and went four and two-thirds innings, allowing six hits, three runs, all earned, walked three and struck out four. He ended up with a no-decision.
Emilio Gustave got things started on offense with a solo home run to left field in the bottom of the third to give the Hot Rods the lead. Vidal Brujan followed with a double and scored on a Brendan McKay single to give the Hot Rods a 2-0 lead after three innings.
The Dragons responded in the top of the fifth when Strotman walked Jeter Downs which was followed by an Andy Sugilio double. Stuart Fairchild then had the Hot Rods calling to the bullpen after a two run double to tie the game. Tyler Day entered the game in relief of Strotman and gave up an RBI single to John Sansone which gave the Dragons a 3-2 lead.
Things moved quietly through the middle innings until the top of the seventh when Miles Gordon walked, stole second, and then came around the score on a passed ball and then a wild pitch to give the Dragons a 4-2 lead.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, McKay worked a lead-off walk. After two strikeouts, Moises Gomez reached on an error that would have ended the inning and the Hot Rods took full advantage. Adrian Rondon brought home both McKay and Gomez with a two-run double to knot the game, 4-4.
Nick Padilla sent the Dragons down in order in the top of the ninth with some help by Taylor Walls who made an incredible jumping catch and tag to catch Sugilio stealing. Brujan led off the bottom of the ninth reaching on a Downs error. He then tagged to second on a Zac Law fly ball. Then with two outs it appeared McKay would have a chance to tie the game but Dayton manager Luis Bolivar decided to walk McKay intentionally and pitch to Ronaldo Hernandez. Two pitches later, Hernandez tagged a walk-off single to the wall and send the Hot Rods home with a 5-4 walk-off win.
Padilla earned the win in relief throwing two scoreless innings. The only baserunner he allowed was a Sugilio single. Austin Orewiler (0-1) took the loss for the Dragons.
The Hot Rods will take on the Dragons once again on Friday at 6:35 pm at Bowling Green Ballpark. Austin Franklin will be on the hill for the Hot Rods, and Mac Sceroler will be toeing the rubber for the Dragons.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.