[Via email from the Bowling Green Hot Rods' broadcaster Tom Gauthier.]
John Mollicone put his closing statement on his bid for South Atlantic League Player of the Week honors on Sunday afternoon, coming through with two more hits and another pair of RBI against the Augusta GreenJackets (7-4, 42-38). However, Mollicone’s efforts were not enough as the Hot Rods (6-4, 40-40) saw the end of their four-game winning streak by losing both games of a Sunday doubleheader, 4-3 and 3-1, to the GreenJackets. The losses came after a four-hour rain delay to begin the afternoon. They also leave the Hot Rods with a 6-4 record in the second half, still in second place in the division. They are now 4-6 against Augusta heading into Monday night’s game three.
In the first game, the Hot Rods put together a ninth inning rally behind Mollicone that came up one run short. Trailing 4-1, Augusta starter Mike Loree (W; 5-5) walked the first two men he faced before the first reliever of the inning, Ryan Verdugo, walked Mike Sheridan to load the bases. That brought on the third pitcher of the inning, Edwin Quirarte, to face John Mollicone with the sacks full. The red-hot Mollicone would deliver once again, smacking a two-run single to center field to cut the deficit to 4-3.
After Mollicone singled, the Hot Rods brought on pinch-runner Justin Reynolds to replace Sheridan at second base. With Jason Tweedy batting, the Hot Rods tried a sacrifice bunt but Quirarte field the ball, threw to third, and had Reynolds for the first out of the inning. Robi Estrada would then follow with a fielder’s choice to leave runners at first and third with two down. Lead-off man Anthony Scelfo then hit, smacking one to deep center that was chased down by Dom Duggan to end the ball game with the tying run at third base.
Augusta built its lead right away in the first inning against starting pitcher Joe Cruz (L, 3-4) who was forced into game one action after the four hour rain delay erased any chance of Shane Dyer making his scheduled start. With one out in the first Vladimir Frias and Charlie Culberson put together consecutive singles. One batter later, Augusta started a stretch of three consecutive base hits, including a two-run single from Andy D’Allessio and a run-scoring hit from Juan Perez.
Augusta added another run in the second on a sac fly by Culberson to extend the lead to 4-0 before Cruz settled down. He finished five innings allowing just two hits and a walk over the final three innings.
In the night cap, facing spot-starter Tyree Hayes (L, 4-4), the GreenJackets scored first again, putting a pair of runs on the board thanks to a two-out second inning double from lead-off hitter Dom Duggan. While that was all the offense the GreenJackets could muster against Hayes and Chris Andujar (three scoreless inning), it was more than enough for starting pitcher Aaron King.
The left-hander, facing the Hot Rods for the second time this season, threw 5.1 innings of one-run ball. He surrendered just two hits before leaving the game in the sixth after hitting Kyeong Kang with one out. He finished with four strikeouts and two walks for his fifth win of the season (5-3).
The Hot Rods scored their only run in the third inning on a two-out single from Tim Beckham, part of a two-hit night for the shortstop. Beckham’s 43rd RBI returned him to the lead on the team and keeps in as the top RBI shortstop in the SAL.
As for Mollicone, he finished the week appearing in five games, with nine hits in 18 at-bats (.500). He had three home runs, including a grand slam, and two doubles, raising his average to .289 on the season.
Other notable performances from the doubleheader saw Jake Jefferies homering in game one, his sixth home run of the season. Jamie Bagley pitched two perfect innings on game one while Andujar threw three scoreless frames in the night cap.
The series continues with game three on Monday night at Bowling Green Ballpark with Logan County Night. Hot Rods lefty Frank De Los Santos (4-6, 3.87) gets the ball against Augusta righty Eric Stolp (3-1, 2.66). Gates open at 5:30 PM for season ticket holds and 6 PM for the general public. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM. For tickets, visit www.bghotrods.com or head to the Hot Rods ticket office at the corner of 8th Avenue and Center Street in downtown Bowling Green.
You can also follow the game on the radio with Tom Gauthier at 1340 WBGN and www.bghotrods.com. Pre-game coverage begins at 6:50 PM.