(Bowling, Green, KY) – In the rubber game of a three-game series with the Greenville Drive, Joe Cruz pitched 5.2 shutout innings and Kyeong Kang delivered the game-winning RBI in the fourth inning to lead the Hot Rods to a 1-0 shutout of the Drive on Wednesday night. The victory gives the Hot Rods their second straight series victory, taking two of three from the Drive at Bowling Green Ballpark. Bowling Green will enter a two-game series with Lexington on Thursday night along in 4th place, 5.0 games behind division-leading Charleston.
The story of the game was the strong pitching by the Hot Rods, led by starter Joe Cruz (2-2). Pitching on his dad’s birthday, Cruz came through with his best start of the year, throwing 5.2 shutout innings. He scattered six hits, walking only one, and striking out five. He allowed the lead-off man to reach in each of the second through fourth innings, but he received two double plays and held the Drive hitless in seven at-bats with runners-in-scoring-position to limit the damage.
He left in the sixth inning for reliever Michael Jarman with a man at second base. The lefty would come on and retire the only batter he faced in the sixth, inducing a lazy fly ball to right field. Jarman eventually worked the next two innings, surrendering just one hit in his second relief outing of the season.
While Cruz was cruising, Greenville got equally solid starting pitching from Stephen Fife (0-1). The right-hander worked five innings, allowing just five hits. However, the Hot Rods were able to string together three of those hits in their big fourth inning.
Lead-off man Isaias Velasquez singled to start the inning before stealing second while Jake Jefferies was at the plate. Jefferies would ground out, moving Velasquez to third base. With the go-ahead run 90 feet away, Kang came through with another big hit in the series, singling to center to give the Hot Rods their lone run of the game. It was Kang’s fifth hit of the series, driving in his fourth run. In the Hot Rods two victories, Kang produced the game-winning RBI in each.
The Hot Rods almost lost their 1-0 lead in the eighth inning. With Jarman on the hill, a man at third, and two outs in the frame, Ryan Lavarnway hit a slow-rolling ball to third baseman Jeremy Beckham. Beckham charged the ball and threw to first base, retiring Lavarnway by a half-step to preserve the lead. Greenville would get another runner to third in the ninth before Josh Satow struck out Ryan Dent to earn his seventh save of the season.
The Hot Rods continue their five-game home stand with a brief two-game series with the Lexington Legends beginning Thursday night at Bowling Green Ballpark. RHP Nick Barnese (0-0, 1.80) makes his 2009 home debut for the Hot Rods against Lexington’s Brad Dydalewicz (3-1, 2.05). First pitch is at 7:05 PM CDT. You can follow the action with Tom Gauthier on 1340 WBGN and www.bghotrods.com beginning at 6:50 PM CDT.
Thursday night is another Thirsty Thursday presented by No. 1 Country Beaver 96.7 FM and All Hit WUHU 107. Enjoy $2 draft specials until the 7th inning. For tickets, visit www.bghotrods.com or the Hot Rods ticket office at Bowling Green Ballpark.