Bowling Green, KY - The clutch play of catcher Matt Rice and closer Austin Hubbard led the Bowling Green Hot Rods (22-13, 60-45) to a 5-4 victory over the West Michigan Whitecaps (18-17, 54-51) on Sunday evening at Bowling Green Ballpark. Rice drove in runs on a pair of two-out RBI-singles, and Hubbard escaped from a big jam in the ninth to lock down the Hot Rods second straight win. The victory sends the Hot Rods to their first series win in four tries over West Michigan this season.
After the Whitecaps scored a run in the top of the first inning, the Hot Rods immediately answered back in the bottom of the first, courtesy of Drew Vettleson. Ryan Brett began the Hot Rods day at the plate with a single up the middle. Two batters later, Vettleson homered on ball to right field that bounced off the top of the wall and onto Seventh Avenue beyond right field. At the end of one, the Hot Rods held a 2-1 lead.
Rice then provided two important runs in the middle innings of Sunday's contest. After a two-out Cameron Seitzer triple in the bottom of the fourth, Rice singled to right-centerfield to put the Hot Rods into a 3-2 lead. Then in the bottom of the sixth after a Seitzer RBI on a sacrifice fly, Rice delivered another RBI single into right field. The second clutch one-bagger placed the Hot Rods in a 5-2 advantage. Coming into Sunday's action, Rice had driven home two runs all season at Bowling Green Ballpark.
In the last two innings, the Hot Rods escaped from two stressful situations, both with the tying run at third base. In the top of the eighth, Andrew Bellatti worked a pair of groundouts to first with the tying run at third. Then in the ninth, Hubbard faced runners at second and third with one out. A soft, shallow pop up to left field and a fielder's choice groundout into the hole at shortstop sealed the Hot Rods win over the Whitecaps.