The South Bend Silver Hawks late rally was not enough at Coveleski Regional Stadium as the Bowling Green Hot Rods won the final game of the four game series 3-2. The Hot Rods escaped a bases loaded situation in the bottom of the eighth with the game tied and first baseman Patrick Leonard stroked a two-out RBI single to left in the top of the ninth to clinch a third consecutive victory for the Hot Rods at the Cove.
Once again, Bowling Green (73-53, 35-23) jumped out to a first inning lead against the Hawks. Center fielder Andrew Toles led off the game with a triple to the center field wall against South Bend (77-50, 33-25) starter Braden Shipley. Toles quickly came around to score when Shipley uncorked a wild pitch that gave the Hot Rods an early 1-0 lead.
The Hot Rods, the Class-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, doubled their lead with a run in the top of the second inning. Designated hitter Tyler Goeddel led off the inning with a line drive double to left. Left fielder Marty Gantt dropped down a sacrifice bunt that advanced Goeddel to third with one out. Shipley retired first baseman Patrick Leonard on a strikeout for the second out of the inning but shortstop Brandon Martin delivered a clutch two-out triple to score Goeddel for a 2-0 lead.
South Bend, the Class-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, pulled a run back in the bottom of the second inning against Hot Rods starter Reinaldo Lopez. With two outs, left fielder Alex Glenn hit a double to the left field wall. Center fielder Breland Almadova laced the first pitch he saw up the middle for a run-scoring single that cut the Bowling Green lead to 2-1.
The two starting pitchers shut down both offenses for the rest of their outings. Shipley, the Diamondbacks’ first round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, made a strong home debut. He allowed just two earned runs and five hits over five innings in a no-decision. Lopez was absolutely dominant for the Hot Rods as he tossed seven innings, allowing just one run on six hits and striking out six. He also recorded a no-decision in the contest.
The Silver Hawks turned to the bullpen in the sixth inning as Enrique Garcia entered the game in relief of Shipley. Garcia kept the deficit at one run through his two and 1/3 innings of work. He allowed just one baserunner and struck out three Hot Rods. Kyle Winkler then entered with one out and the bases empty in the top of the eighth. He surrendered a two out single but escaped the inning by inducing catcher Justin O’Connor to ground out to shortstop for the third out.
The Hot Rods turned to their bullpen in the eighth inning as Moniker Madness contestant Stone Speer (2-0) entered the game in relief of Lopez. He promptly surrendered a leadoff single to third baseman Brandon Drury. After first baseman Rudy Flores struck out, catcher Roidany Aguila took an 0-2 pitch the other way for a single, putting runners at first and second with one out. Glenn hit a bouncer up the middle that looked like a potential double play ball but it took a bad hop right in front of second baseman Coyle and bounded into center field for a game-tying single. Aguila went to third on the single while Glenn moved up to second on the throw to third base. Andrew Velazquez entered the game as a pinch runner for Aguila at third base before Speer intentionally walked Almadova to load the bases. Speer then did a masterful job escaping the jam with the game tied as designated hitter Mike Lang popped out to third base and shortstop Pedro Ruiz flew out to center to end the inning with the score 2-2.
Jimmie Sherfy (0-1) took over in relief of Winkler to start the ninth inning, Coyle started the inning off with a single up the middle. He promptly stole second base. Sherfy struck out Goeddel and then retired Gantt on a fly ball to right field. Leonard came to the plate and jumped on the first pitch he saw from Sherfy for an RBI single through the left side that gave Bowling Green a 3-2 lead.
Speer remained in the game for the Hot Rods to pitch the ninth inning. Pena led off the inning with a walk and he was bunted over to second by right fielder Socrates Brito. Drury was intentionally walked after a discussion on the mound. That strategy proved successful as Speer induced Flores to pound a full count offering into the ground to second base for a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
South Bend heads out on the road for a three-game series in Fort Wayne against the Tin Caps, the Class-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres beginning Wednesday night. The Hawks return to the Cove for their final homestand of the year beginning on Saturday night at 7:05pm. They start with a three-game series against the Great Lakes Loons, the Class-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers and then finish off the home slate with three more against the Hot Rods. Saturday night is Flat Screen Saturday where the Hawks will gave away a 39” flat screen TV every inning.