[Via email from the Bowling Green Hot Rods' broadcaster Tom Gauthier.]
Jake Jefferies homered in the top of the first inning to spark the Hot Rods to a 5-0 win over the Rome Braves (2-6, 37-41) on Thursday night at State Mutual Stadium. Jefferies’ homer provided early run support for starting pitcher Nick Barnese (W; 3-1) who worked six scoreless innings to give the Hot Rods (5-2, 39-38) their fourth straight win over the Braves. The victory guarantees the Hot Rods will maintain at least a share of first place in the Southern Division heading into the series finale with the Braves on Friday night.
For the third time this series the Hot Rods opened the scoring first thanks to Jefferies homer in the top of the first inning. With two down he belted one to deep right field for his fifth home run of the season, since May 18 against Charleston, a span covering 132 at-bats. He picked up his 40th RBI on the play to give the Hot Rods a 1-0 lead.
In the second they added three more runs to break the game open. John Mollicone started the rally delivering a lead-off single to center field for his sixth hit of the series. Two batters later he moved to third on a single by Jason Tweedy, who ended up at second base when the Braves tried to catch Mollicone at third. With runners at second and third Robi Estrada hit a ground ball that was misplayed by shortstop Ryan Barba, plating Mollicone and Tweedy to give the Hot Rods a 3-0 lead. Estrada scored two batters later on a triple by Tim Beckham, who picked up his 42nd RBI on the play. Beckham now has 14 RBI against the Braves, 12 of those coming in Rome in just seven games.
The early run support made it easy for Nick Barnese. He threw six shutout frames, allowing just two hits to the Rome offense. He walked three, just the second outing in which he’s issued a free pass this season. He struck out three batters and didn’t allow a runner past second base. In fact, he allowed just one base runner over the final three innings, eventually retiring that base runner on a double play.
The Hot Rod scored an insurance run in the fourth inning when Estrada singled, stole second base, and came around on an RBI single by Anthony Scelfo. Estrada finished the game with two hits, as did Tweedy, Mollicone, and Jefferies. Scelfo extended his hitting streak to four games with the run-scoring single, picking up his fifth RBI of the road trip. Kyeong Kang also extended his hitting streak to a season-high six games with a first inning single.
Once Barnese left after six, the Hot Rods bullpen didn’t miss a beat. Tyree Hayes (seventh), Chris Andujar (eighth), and Josh Satow (ninth) pitched three hitless innings, allowing only one base runner, to preserve the Hot Rods third shutout of the season.
The Hot Rods will go for their second sweep of the season in the series finale against Rome on Friday night. LHP Matt Moore (4-3, 3.14) gets the ball against Rome RHP J.J. Hoover (3-2, 3.06). You can follow the action from Georgia with Tom Gauthier on 1340 AM WBGN and www.bghotrods.com. Coverage begins at 5:45 PM CDT with first pitch coming at 6:00 PM CDT.
The Hot Rods begin their next home stand against the Augusta GreenJackets on July 4 with postgame fireworks presented by WBKO. For tickets and a complete list of promotions, visit www.bghotrods.com or stop by the Hot Rods ticket office at Bowling Green Ballpark.