(Bowling Green, KY) – Matt Moore struck out nine Hickory Crawdads on Thursday night, setting the tone for a dominating pitching performance in a 3-1 Hot Rods (25-19, 59-55) win at Bowling Green Ballpark. Moore’s 8th victory earned him Koch Air Coolest Pitcher honors, highlighting a one-run, six-hit outing by the Hot Rods staff. Bowling Green has won four straight, remaining four games behind first-place Asheville, but only one game behind second place Augusta.
The Hot Rods scored first in the game, taking a 1-0 lead in the last of the second against starter Jake Brigham (2-7). After a double by Mike Sheridan, Kyeong Kang delivered a one-out single to right field to plate Sheridan for his 30th RBI of 2009.
Bowling Green added to the lead in the third thanks to some wildness from Brigham. The right-hander hit Anthony Scelfo to lead off the inning. With Tim Beckham batting, Brigham made a wild pick-off throw to first, resulting in a two-base error that allowed Scelfo to scamper to third. After Beckham was hit by a pitch, Jake Jefferies hit a low line drive that ricocheted off of Brigham for an infield single, scoring Scelfo for a 2-0 lead. The infield single produced Jefferies’ 47th RBI while extending his hitting streak to a team-best 12 games.
In the fourth, the Crawdads finally clawed back against Matt Moore. After being retired nine-up, nine-down the first time through the line-up, Hickory managed three hits to begin the fourth inning, including an RBI double by Eric Fry to halve the deficit at 2-1. Moore buckled down, however, retiring the next three in order on a ground out and a pair of strikeouts.
Moore helped himself out in the fifth with a great defensive play, ensuring he would leave the game with a lead. After a lead-off walk followed by a strikeout, Leury Garcia delivered a hit-and-run single to move Jared Bolden to third. That brought up lead-off man Cody Podraza, who attempted a suicide squeeze on the first pitch. Podraza got the bunt down but Moore, charging hard, scooped it up and, in one motion, shoveled it to Jefferies to retire Bolden for the second out of the inning.
Moore ended up getting out of the fifth, reaching his maximum innings for the night. He allowed just one run, the third time in four starts where he’s given up one earned or less. He surrendered four hits and three walks but struck out nine to move past Lexington’s Jordan Lyles for the league lead with 150 strikeouts.
The Hot Rods added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh, again taking advantage of a Hickory miscue. Jason Tweedy began the inning with a flare single to left field, giving him hits in nine of his last ten games. On the next pitch he stole second base and then took third as the throw by the catcher Doug Hogan skipped into center field for an error. After Robi Estrada struck out, the Hot Rods attempted a successful suicide squeeze as Scelfo laid down a perfect bunt to score Tweedy for a 3-1 lead.
With the insurance run in the bag, Neil Schenk relieved Shane Dyer in the eighth inning after Dyer had thrown two scoreless frames. Schenk recorded a 1-2-3 eighth, picking up two strikeouts. Josh Satow then recorded a perfect ninth for his 17th save, one of three perfect innings by Hot Rods relievers.
The series continues on Friday night with game two as Chris Andujar (9-3, 2.89) makes another attempt at his tenth win of the season. He’ll face Hickory RHP Neil Ramirez (3-5, 5.13) with a first pitch at 7:05 PM. Friday night will feature another terrific post-game fireworks show presented by WBKO.