[Via email from the Bowling Green Hot Rods' broadcaster Tom Gauthier.]
In one of the most exciting games of the season, the Hot Rods (20-14, 54-50) scored three times between the 7th and 8th innings and then held on for a dramatic 3-2 win over the Savannah Sand Gnats (18-17, 53-52). The win is the Hot Rods third straight overall, their second straight over Savannah to give them at least a split of this four-game series. It also moves them with 1.5 games of first place Asheville thanks to Rome’s rain-shortened win over the Tourists.
For the first 6.2 innings of the game, it looked like the Hot Rods were going to be talking about a possible no-hitter by Savannah starter Chris Schwinden. Into the seventh inning the right-hander had allowed one base runner on a second-inning walk to Isaias Velasquez. But, in the seventh, after Schwinden retired 16 straight, Mike Sheridan picked up the Hot Rods first hit on a ground ball single to right field. Schwinden then hit Velasquez to put runners at first and third for Kyeong Kang. Following up his three-hit, three-RBI night on Friday, Kang delivered again, lining a single to left field to score Sheridan to cut the deficit to 2-1.
An inning later, Bowling Green would erase that deficit and take their first lead of the game. Jason Tweedy led off the inning against Schwinden with a sharp single to center field that knocked Schwinden from the game after seven-plus innings. Right-handed reliever Jake Goldberg came into the game and retired Jeremy Beckham on an interference call as Beckham stepped over the base line on a bunt attempt. Then, Anthony Scelfo hit a shallow fly to center that nearly fell in until Sean Ratliff made a sliding catch, once again forcing Tweedy back to first base. With two down, looking like they had run out of luck, Tim Beckham roped his team-high 25th double into the right-center gap, scoring Tweedy all the way from first base to tie the game at 2-2. A few pitches later Jake Jefferies smacked a lined single to center to complete the comeback, scoring Beckham to give Bowling Green a 3-2 lead.
That’s when things got really interesting for the Hot Rods bullpen. In the eight, after a scoreless seventh from Tyree Hayes (W; 6-4), Marquis Fleming came on and recorded the first two outs before walking Ratliff and Wilmer Flores. That forced manager Matt Quatraro to go to the bullpen for Josh Satow, who promptly retired Eric Campbell for the final out of the frame.
In the ninth, Satow would have problems of his own as he allowed a lead-off double to Jordan Abruzzo followed by a walk to put the go-ahead run on base. Joey August then laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners an additional 90 feet. Satow then issued an intentional walk, the first for Bowling Green this season, to load the bases for Jefry Marte. The Savannah third baseman, 0-4 to that point, popped out into foul territory for the second out of the inning. That’s when Velasquez delivered the defensive play of the season. With a full count, Josh Satin hit a hard ground ball down the third base line. Velasquez dove on it, jumped to his feet, and threw out Satin at first base with a little help from a scoop by Mike Sheridan to end the game.
The comeback, and subsequent defensive plays, help Chris Andujar avoid his first losing streak of the season. Making his fourth straight start Andujar worked six innings, allowing just two runs on five hits, including an RBI double by August and a solo home run by Ratliff. He struck out three and walked only one, leaving his ERA at 2.95.
Schwinden, meanwhile, finished seven-plus for the Sand Gnats, allowing two runs on three hits. He struck out four and issued one free pass while hitting one batter. Both starting pitchers took no-decisions in the game.
The series now continues with game three on Sunday afternoon as RHP Joe Cruz (4-5, 3.50) tries to give the Hot Rods their fourth straight win at Grayson Stadium. Cruz will face the Sand Gnats for the second time, going head-to-head with LHP Robert Carson (7-7, 2.89), who makes his third start against the Hot Rods in 2009. First pitch is at 1:05 PM CDT. You can follow the action with Tom Gauthier on 1340 WBGN and www.bghotrods.com beginning at 12:50 PM CDT.
The Hot Rods return home to begin an eight-game home stand on Saturday, August 8 at 7:05 PM. The first 1,000 fans into that night’s game against Greenville (Boston Red Sox) will received a replica of Bowling Green Ballpark courtesy of BB&T. For tickets, visit www.bghotrods.com or head to the Hot Rods ticket office at the corner of 8th Avenue and Center Street at Bowling Green Ballpark.