(Bowling Green, KY) – Tim Beckham smacked his first career Grand Slam on Wednesday night, but it wasn’t enough as the Hot Rods’ ninth inning rally fell short, 8-5, to Hagerstown. The loss drops the Hot Rods to 15-10 in the second half, 49-46 overall. They remained in third place in the Southern Division, one game behind Asheville and a half-game behind Augusta as both of those teams also fell on Wednesday night.
Beckham’s blast came in the ninth inning as Bowling Green attempted to overcome an 8-1 deficit. With one down, Jason Corder, Tyler Hauschild, and Jeremy Beckham drew consecutive walks against relief pitcher Carlos Peralta. That forced Hagerstown manager Matt LeCroy to go to the bullpen for Chris Lugo, who promptly retired Anthony Scelfo on a bases-loaded fly ball to center field. Beckham hit next, driving the first pitch he saw over the right field wall for the home run. It was Beckham’s first homer since June 30, covering a span of 76 at-bats. It was the Hot Rods third Grand Slam of the season, as Beckham joined Isaias Velasquez and John Mollicone with bases loaded round trippers.
The Hot Rods weren’t done with Beckham’s home run as Jake Jefferies line a hard single to center field for his second hit of the game. He would be stranded, however, when Kyeong Kang struck out on a 3-2 fastball for the final out of the game.
Bowling Green fell behind right away as Hagerstown took advantage of a Hot Rods error in the first inning against Joe Cruz (L; 4-5). With one out, Isaias Velasquez fielded a ground ball at third base but threw wildly to first base, allowing Steve Lombardozzi to end up at second base. After a ground out moved Lombardozzi to third, he scored on a double to left field by first baseman Tyler Moore.
The scoring continued in the second inning when center fielder Charlie Fermaint lined a solo home run to left, hitting the foul pole for his third long ball of the year. They added two more runs in the third when, with two outs, Steven Souza knocked in left fielder Valerio Heredia with an infield single up the third base line. Then, with runners at first and third, the Suns attempted a successful double steal, with Lombardozzi swiping home just ahead of a throw from shortstop Tim Beckham. It was the fifth steal in the first three innings for Hagerstown.
Cruz departed the game after a scoreless fourth inning. He allowed a total of four runs, three earned, on six hits. He struck out five and walked while walking just one. He was bested by Hagerstown’s Marcos Frias (W; 6-3), who worked six innings of one-run ball, scattering eight hits.
Beckham earned Koch Air Hottest Hitter of the Game honors, picked up the home run as part of a four-hit night. He now has two four-hit games this season as well as five homers and a team-leading 53 RBI. Jefferies finished with two hits while Tyler Hauschild picked up his first RBI of the season, his first since joining the Rays organization in 2008.
The Suns, meanwhile, added solo runs with a sixth inning groundout and a seventh inning single. They scored two more in the eighth with an RBI double and a sacrifice fly to right field.
The series continues on Thursday night at Bowling Green Ballpark. LHP Frank De Los Santos (4-6, 3.46) goes for Bowling Green against Hagerstown’s RHP Patrick Arnold (3-2, 4.36). First pitch is at 7:05 PM.