After needing two runs to rally for an 8-7 walk-off win in the opener of their doubleheader on Friday, the Bowling Green Hot Rods would've been happy to get a cleaner and quicker performance in the nightcap. Matthew Liberatore obliged.MLB.com's No. 46 overall prospect recorded a career-high 10 strikeouts in his first
After needing two runs to rally for an 8-7 walk-off win in the opener of their doubleheader on Friday, the Bowling Green Hot Rods would've been happy to get a cleaner and quicker performance in the nightcap. Matthew Liberatore obliged.
MLB.com's No. 46 overall prospect recorded a career-high 10 strikeouts in his first complete game as a pro, going all seven innings as Class A Bowling Green beat Great Lakes, 3-1, to complete a sweep at Bowling Green Ballpark.
Liberatore (6-1) was economical in his third straight seven-inning start, throwing 70 of a season-high 101 pitches for strikes. The left-hander worked around traffic to post a scoreless first and got out of danger after James Outman's leadoff double in the second by striking out the side. In the third, he stranded Dodgers No. 11 prospect Jacob Amaya after a two-out double before his first 1-2-3 inning in the fourth.
Great Lakes scratched across its lone run in the fifth when Matt Cogen drew a leadoff walk and scored four batters later when Amaya reached on an error by third baseman Jonathan Aranda.
Gameday box score
The Rays' No. 4 prospect allowed one baserunner the rest of the night and working out of jams was a theme throughout the night, as it was two weeks ago when the southpaw struck out nine and allowed three hits and a walk over seven scoreless innings.
"It's a good sign of maturity," Hot Rods pitching coach Brian Reith said that night. "And he's very mature for his age. He was a high-school draftee. Well beyond his years [in] his knowledge and maturity on the baseball field, so that was good to see."
Cogen's walk was the only one Liberatore issued Friday, marking the seventh time in eight starts for Bowling Green he's walked two or fewer batters.
"For him, we talk a lot about it, is fastball command," Reith said earlier this month. "He has a tendency to lose a lot of pitches out of the zone on the fastball. For him to be successful, he really needs to command that fastball. Everything works so well off of that when he does have that fastball command. ... He's improving with that, and I think he needs to continue to improve with that to have success moving forward."
The effort dropped Liberatore's ERA to 1.50 and gave him his sixth win, one behind Fort Wayne's Henry Henry for the Midwest League lead.
Grant Witherspoon put Liberatore in line for the victory with a two-run homer in the fifth. It was his ninth of the season, moving him into a five-way tie for ninth on the circuit.
Loons starter Stephen Kolek (5-5) recorded a career-high eight strikeouts over five innings but gave up three runs -- two earned -- on four hits and three walks.
Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun.