[Via email from the Bowling Green Hot Rods' broadcaster Tom Gauthier.]
With 6,054 fans sitting on the edge of their seats Hot Rods shortstop Tim Beckham stroked a single to left field to score Anthony Scelfo for the game-winning run in a 5-4, 11-inning win over the Charleston RiverDogs (7-9, 46-40) on Friday night. The second-largest crowd in ballpark history witnessed the Hot Rods (10-5, 44-41) maintain their perfect 4-0 record in extra-innings in a thrilling back-and-forth contest. The victory also ensures the Hot Rods will put together at least a .500 home stand and a season split with Charleston heading into their final meeting on Saturday night.
The winning rally actually began with a fantastic defensive play by Scelfo in the top of the 11th. The center fielder, who earlier in the game scaled the right field wall to take a hit away from Tommy Baldridge, made a diving catch in shallow center to rob Mitch Abeita of a lead-off single. After Josh Satow (W; 3-0) retired the final two batters of the inning, the Hot Rods went to work offensively in the bottom half of the frame.
Robi Estrada led off with a strikeout against relief pitcher Chuck Nolte (L; 1-1). Scelfo followed with his second hit of the night with a lined single by the first baseman Baldridge into right field. On the first pitch to Beckham, Scelfo attempted a delayed steal and was safe at second base by a hair to set up Beckham’s game-winner. On the very next pitch the Koch Air Hottest Hitter of the Game lined a single down the left field line to score Scelfo for the Hot Rods third extra-innings walk-off hit.
Satow earned the win with a career-high four innings out of the bullpen. While he did pick up his third blown save by allowing a game-tying triple to Abraham Almonte in the eighth inning, Satow allowed just one hit the rest of the way, retiring the final eight batters that came to the plate.
Charleston’s eighth-inning rally to tie the game at 4-4 was just one of many see-saw battles during the game. Bowling Green scored first thanks to an Isaias Velasquez single to score Beckham in their half of the first inning. The RiverDogs would come right back and get a run off of Joe Cruz (ND) with a two-out run-scoring hit from Mitch Abeita in the second to tie it at 1-1.
Each team would put together a two-run third inning. For Charleston, Corban Joseph and Melky Mesa drove in runs with consecutive two-out hits to give the RiverDogs a 3-1 lead in the top half. In the bottom half, Jake Jefferies drew a walk and advanced to third on a single-error combination off the bat of Kyeong Kang. Two batters later Mike Sheridan drove both runners in with a single to right field, tying the game at 3-3.
Sheridan struck again in the fifth against Charleston starter Brett Marshall (ND). That rally started with consecutive two-out singles from Jefferies and Kang, both advancing an extra base when left fielder Taylor Grote bobbled the ball from Kang. Isaias Velasquez then drew a walk to load the bases for Sheridan. The Hot Rods first baseman, who has four RBI in this series, single to right field to score Jefferies before Kang was thrown out at home plate to end the inning by Melky Mesa.
Cruz pitched just four innings for the Hot Rods, reaching a high pitch count due to endless foul balls by Charleston. He allowed three earned runs on five hits, striking out two and walking one. Neil Schenk followed up Cruz with three shutout innings, allowing just three hits before giving way for the final four frames. Schenk left the game in line for the win before Almonte’s triple in the eighth against Satow.
The two teams meet for the final time this season on Saturday night, which is Scout Sleepover Night at Bowling Green Ballpark. First pitch is at 7:05 PM. Gates open at 5:30 PM for season ticket holders and 6 PM for the general public. The first 1,000 fans will received a Silver Hot Rods Logo Baseball. For tickets, visit www.bghotrods.com.
The pitching match-up for Saturday features LHP Frank De Los Santos (4-6, 3.72) for the Hot Rods against Charleston RHP Andrew Brackman (1-8, 6.01). You can follow the game on the radio with Tom Gauthier at 1340 WBGN and www.bghotrods.com. Pre-game coverage begins at 6:50 PM.