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Bowling Green wins High-A East Finals opener

Rays' No. 14 prospect Mead keys rally with RBI single in ninth
Curtis Mead batted .321 in 104 games across between Low-A, High-A and a brief stint at Triple-A during the regular season. (Ken Inness/MiLB.com)
September 23, 2021

After the first two games of the High-A East Championship Series were postponed because of rain, Bowling Green and Greensboro really came ready to play. In a game with eight different ties and lead changes, 14th-ranked Rays prospect Curtis Mead’s go-ahead single in the ninth inning ended up making the

After the first two games of the High-A East Championship Series were postponed because of rain, Bowling Green and Greensboro really came ready to play.

In a game with eight different ties and lead changes, 14th-ranked Rays prospect Curtis Mead’s go-ahead single in the ninth inning ended up making the difference in the Hot Rods' 10-8 Game 1 win over the Grasshoppers on Thursday at First National Bank Field.

"I think the guys had a little rust on them, not having seen any live pitching in four, five days, but it was a well-played game on both sides," Bowling Green coach Skeeter Barnes said. "They have a ton of athletes, we have a ton of good players. We knew it was going to be like this."

The scoring started almost immediately. Greensboro's Aaron Shackelford clubbed a two-run homer to open the scoring in the bottom of the second and Grant Witherspoon immediately launched an equalizing blast for the Hot Rods in the next frame. The teams exchanged the lead two more times in the next two innings before fifth-ranked Pirates prospect Liover Peguero laced an RBI single to give the 'Hoppers an 8-7 lead in the sixth.

Bowling Green was quieted in the seventh and eighth, then rallied in the ninth. Brett Wisely and Witherspoon both singled. Three pitches later, Mead singled to center to tie the game, and a fielding error by Matt Gorski in center enabled Wisely to score the go-ahead run and Mead to take third. A sacrifice fly by Evan Edwards gave the Rays affiliate an insurance run.

"I think if we can keep the score relatively close, I mean, we got three guys with 20-something home runs, so we're always within striking distance," Barnes said. "You just try not to give away at-bats and string together enough hits so you can score runs and get back into the game. ... It was an all-around team effort. The guys were glad to get back on the field."

Bowling Green utilized five pitchers in the game, and the final two didn't allow Greensboro to score again. Trey Cumbie struck out two in 1 1/3 innings and Angel Felipe fanned three while closing out the game with two perfect final frames.

"With Felipe on the mound, I figured we had a real good chance of closing it out," said Barnes. "When you got a guy who throws 100 [mph] with a good breaking ball, I really like our chances once we got the lead."

Greensboro relievers Steven Jennings and Colin Selby combined for nine strikeouts over five one-hit innings before Emmanuel Mejia was tagged for three runs in the ninth.

Stephanie Sheehan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter _[@Steph_Sheehan](https://twitter.com/_)St_)ep_)h_Sheehan_))_)__).