Bowling Green, Ky. – For the eleventh consecutive game, the Bowling Green Hot Rods (Class-A/Tampa Bay Rays) struck first, but for a second straight night, they could not make their lead last. The West Michigan Whitecaps (Detroit Tigers) spoiled a gem by Chris Kirsch by scoring three runs after his exit to steal away a 3-2 victory on Sunday night.
Kirsch tossed a career-high seven innings, and did not allow a run. He took a perfect game into the fifth, and only surrendered one walk and three hits. Kirsch lowered his season-ERA to just 4.47 in the no-decision.
The Hot Rods offense did not capitalize on early chances, but they received a big hit to score two runs in the fourth. Johnny Field reached on an error, and then advanced to second base when Ariel Soriano extended his hitting streak to eight games with a single to left field. Granden Goetzman then doubled down the left-field line to plate both Field and Soriano, and give Bowling Green a 2-0 advantage.
The eighth inning began with a walk to Tim Remes by Hot Rods reliever Jorge Rodriguez. Francisco Contreras followed with a double to put runners at second and third with nobody out. Javier Betancourt would tie the game at two with a single, and he moved to second base on an error in center by Field. Rodriguez proceeded with a strikeout of Raph Rhymes, but a passed ball allowed Betancourt to score from second base to give the Whitecaps the lead.
West Michigan’s bullpen faced the minimum in the final two innings to secure the victory. Rodriguez (1-1) allowed three runs, two earned, on two hits to pick-up the loss. Will LaMarche (2-0) pitched a scoreless seventh inning for the Whitecaps, and he received the win.
Austin Kubitza started the game and nearly matched Kirsch with a fine outing. He allowed just two runs on four hits, and struck out eight in the no-decision. Only one of his runs was earned, and he conceded just four hits.
The Hot Rods will try and even the series on Memorial Day, a special day-game with a 12:05 p.m. first pitch. Gates will open up at 11 a.m., and 2013 Rays first-rounder Ryne Stanek will take the mound and look for his first professional victory. The Hot Rods are in the midst of a nine-game homestand, and have split the first four games. In town through Thursday night, plenty of time remains to take advantage of a fun week. Tickets can be purchased online at BGHotRods.com, or by stopping by the Bowling Green Ballpark box office.