Bowling Green, Ky. – Two timely double plays ensured the victory for the Bowling Green Hot Rods (Class-A/Tampa Bay Rays) on Thursday night. The Hot Rods plated two in the first, and were able to hold off the Cedar Rapids Kernels (Minnesota Twins) thanks to the double plays in the sixth and ninth innings.
The only two runs for Bowling Green crossed in the bottom of the first inning, but it would be the only two they would need. Juniel Querecuto led off the first with a base hit through the right side. He would advance to second on a wild pitch, and then third base on a fly ball by Armando Araiza. After Ty Young walked, Young attempted to steal second to potentially allow Querecuto the score. The ball was thrown into center field by Kernels catcher Mitch Garver, and Querecuto scored easily.
Young would later plate on wild pitch to give the Hot Rods the 2-0 lead.
Two runs seemed like it would be the only tallies of the night, but Cedar Rapids’ offense awoke in the sixth. Chad Christensen doubled to right-center field, and after a walk to Bryan Haar, Christensen would score when Alex Swim doubled. Following a walk to Jason Kanzler, the bases were loaded.
The Hot Rods then turned to Brad Schreiber to escape the jam, and he needed just one pitch to get out of it. J.D. Williams lined the ball right back to him. It deflected off of Schreiber’s foot, and Kean Wong picked it up at second, tagged the base, and threw to first to end the inning on a double play.
A rare defensive walk-off was accomplished as another double play ended the ballgame. Williams led off the top of the ninth with a single, and moved to second one out later when Engelb Vielma walked. With the tying run at second base and the go-ahead runner at first, Logan Wade hit a liner into shallow left field. Querecuto leaped to make the catch for the second out, and he quickly threw to second base to catch Williams off the bag, and end the game.
Chris Kirsch (6-6) recorded his third consecutive victory after conceding just one run on three hits. He did walk a season-high five batters, but Kirsch also struck out five and lowered his earned run average to 2.82. Schreiber was dominant out of the bullpen as he tossed two and two-thirds inning of scoreless relief. Stone Speer worked the ninth inning to notch his third save of the season.
The two squads will play the rubber match of the three-game series Friday night. It will be Fireworks Friday at Bowling Green Ballpark thanks to WBKO and All Hit WUHU – 107.1. Gates open at 6 p.m. CT, and first pitch will be hurled at 7:05 p.m. For tickets to any Hot Rods game, or for more information, fans can visit BGHotRods.com, call 270-901-2121, or visit the Bowling Green Ballpark box office.