(Bowling Green, KY) - In front of the third biggest crowd of the season, Hot Rods first baseman Mike Sheridan came up a home run short of the cycle to open the final home stand of the season against the Lexington Legends. In the end the Hot Rods needed that home run as Lexington scored three times in the ninth to grab a 6-4 win. The loss is the second straight for the Hot Rods, who have now blown two straight games when the opposition was down to its final out. The loss also leaves the Hot Rods with a 6-9 record against the Legends with three games to go in the series.
Lexington scored the winning runs in the ninth inning against Neil Schenk (6-4), who entered in the eighth and retired the final batter to preserve a 4-3 lead at the time. In the ninth, Lexington got infield singles from Albert Cartwright and Eric Suttle before Jay Austin flew to right. That's when Brian Pellegrini, who entered the game hitting .535 against the Hot Rods, hit a monster home run into the Home Run Grill to put Lexington on top 6-4. It was Pellegrini's 26th home run of the year, his fifth against the Hot Rods.
Matt Nevarez took over in ninth to retire the Hot Rods after a one-out single by Anthony Scelfo. He capped off a strong night for the Lexington bullpen, which used three pitchers and allowed just two hits and two walks over the final 3.2 innings.
The Hot Rods did strike first in the bottom of the second inning against starter Kyle Greenwalt. Kyeong Kang (double) and Jason Corder (single) both reached to begin the inning before coming home to score on a two-run triple by Sheridan, the Koch Air Hottest Hitter. Two batters later Jason Tweedy delivered a sac fly to left-center field to score Sheridan for a 3-0 Hot Rods lead.
Lexington got two runs back in the top of the third thanks to some shaky defense behind Chris Andujar. Two of the first three batters reached on errors, with a run scoring on the second miscue. After a fly ball to right field, Albert Cartwright went advanced to third on an errant pick-off throw by Andujar and then scored on a wild pitch to cut the Hot Rods lead to 3-2.
Bowling Green plated another run in the bottom of the fourth inning with Sheridan taking part in the rally. He led off the inning with a double to right before scoring on John Mollicone's base hit down the right field line to bump the lead to 4-2.
The Legends rallied again in the top of the fifth, making it a 4-3 game on an RBI single by Brian Pellegrini. Andujar eventually loaded the bases with two outs but retired Freddie Hernandez on a force out to get out of the jam without any further damage.
Andujar worked five innings allowing just one earned run (three runs total) on three hits. He struck out three, walked three, and threw a wild pitch. He took a no-hitter into the fifth inning for the second straight start before giving up the first of his three hits. When he left his ERA sat at 2.65, third-best in the South Atlantic League.
Greenwalt lasted 5.1 for the Legends, failing in his bid for his fourth win in four starts against the Hot Rods. He allowed four runs on nine hits, striking out four and walking one.
The series continues with game two on Saturday night as the Hot Rods send RHP Shane Dyer (1-10, 5.29) to the mound against Lexington RHP Jordan Lyles (6-11, 3.31). First pitch is 7:05 PM. The first 1,000 adults into Bowling Green Ballpark will receive a Hot Rods BBQ Apron courtesy of Coca-Cola. Games open at 5:30 PM for season ticket holders and 6 PM for the general public. For tickets, visit www.bghotrods.com or stop by the Hot Rods ticket office at Bowling Green Ballpark..
You can follow the game on the radio beginning at 6:50 PM with Tom Gauthier on 1340 WBGN and www.bghotrods.com.