(Lakewood, NJ) - After finding out he was starting the game on the bus ride to the ballpark, Chris Andujar threw five brilliant innings on Wednesday afternoon, allowing just two hits to the Lakewood BlueClaws.
However, Andujar was denied his league-leading 10th win of the when Marquis Fleming (1-4) allowed three runs in the ninth inning, giving Lakewood a 4-3 walk-off win. The victory leaves the Hot Rods at 11-7 and needing a win on Thursday night to draw a split of the four-game series.
The winning rally started with a lead-off double by Travis D'Arnaud. With one out, D'Arnaud advanced to third on a single to center by Jeremy Hamilton. That was followed by a single to left off the bat of Travis Mattair to cut the Hot Rods lead to 3-2. After Zach Collier lined out Vladimir De Los Santos drew a rare walk from Fleming to load the bases. Fleming then issued another two-out walk to force in the tying run before Anthony Gose smacked a single to right to score Mattair and end the game at 4-3.
The loss for Fleming is his fourth of the year, resulting in just his second blown save. The runs he allowed were the first earned runs since he gave up three earned on June 4 against Lexington, coveringa a span of 13.2 innings.
For the second straight game the Hot Rods were the team that opened the scoring with a third inning run. With one out, Robi Estrada tripled to deep right-center field, his third triple of the season. He scored on an Antony Scelfo groundout to first base to give the Hot Rods a 1-0 lead. The RBI for Scelfo was his 28th of the season, giving him five in the last four games.
They added a run in the fourth inning thanks to some wildness from starting pitcher Trevor May (ND). May allowed a lead-off single to Jake Jefferies, who advanced to second base on a dropped line drive in right field off the bat of Kyeong Kang. May retired the next two batters before walking Jason Tweedy to load the bases. With the sacks full and Tyler Hauschild at the plate catcher Travis D'Arnaud committed a passed ball on a high fastball, allowing Jefferies to score the Hot Rods second run of the game.
Two innings later Bowling Green added a third run by loading the bases with nobody out against May. The right-hander left the game after loading the bases for Jordan Ellis. The reliever promptly gave up a sacrifice fly to Mike Sheridan, who picked up his fourth RBI of the series for a 3-0 Hot Rods lead. Ellis retired the final two batters of the inning to keep the damage to a minimum.
The early offense wasn't enough in the enough, despite five innings of two-hit ball from Andujar. The Hot Rods also left six men on base, four of them in scoring position and two of those at third. They finished the game 2-for-11 with men in scoring position.
The series continues with a short turnaround for both teams on Wednesday morning at FirstEnergy Park. RHP Joe Cruz (3-4, 3.62) pitches the finale against Lakewood righty Justin De Fratus (3-2, 2.84). First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 PM CDT.