Bowling Green, Ky. – Josh VanMeter was clutch both on offense and defense on Thursday night for the Fort Wayne TinCaps (Class-A/San Diego Padres). His seventh-inning home run helped sink the Bowling Green Hot Rods (Tampa Bay Rays) in game two of their series, 3-2.
For the first time in two weeks, the Hot Rods offense did not strike first. VanMeter led off the third inning with a single to right field, and then moved up to second base on a single by Mallex Smith. After a wild pitch moved VanMeter to third base, he scored when Dustin Peterson grounded out.
Bowling Green would strike back quickly, and they took the lead in the bottom of the third. With two outs, Juniel Querecuto reached on an error by Fort Wayne second baseman, River Stevens. Kean Wong then drove a single up the middle to advance Querecuto to second base. The game was tied when Ariel Soriano singled to left field to drive home Wong. Armando Araiza gave the Hot Rods the lead when he blooped a single to right field. Wong scored on the play and Bowling Green led 2-1.
The game remained tied until the seventh. With two outs, VanMeter hit a line-drive home run that barely cleared the wall in right field to give Fort Wayne back the lead at 3-2.
The Hot Rods would threaten in the eighth, but after Wong was thrown out at home plate after an infield single by Araiza, the TinCaps’ bullpen settled down. Closer Tayron Guerrero retired the side in order in the ninth to seal the win and record his first save of the season.
Fort Wayne starter Erik Cabrera (2-3) went six innings to earn his second victory of the season. He allowed two unearned runs, and struck out four opposing batters.
Ben Griset received the start for Bowling Green in place of Blake Snell, who was promoted to Advanced-A Port Charlotte before Thursday’s game. Griset allowed two runs on seven hits over five innings and received a no-decision. Jorge Rodriguez (1-2) gave the Hot Rods four very solid innings out of the bullpen, but his only blemish was the home run by VanMeter, and he was handed the loss. Rodriguez also struck out four batters without issuing a free pass.
Bowling Green will look to salvage the finale with Fort Wayne on Friday night. Gates will open at 6 p.m. on a Fireworks Friday presented by WBKO and All-Hit WUHU – 107.1. First pitch will be tossed at 7:05 p.m. Tickets and more information can be obtained at BGHotRods.com, by calling the Hot Rods at 270-901-2121, or by visiting the Bowling Green Ballpark box office.