BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) --- Wander Franco connected for his fourth home run of the season, but the Bowling Green Hot Rods couldn’t hold an early lead as they fell 6-4 to the South Bend Cubs on Tuesday night at Bowling Green Ballpark. The Hot Rods fell to 21-17 and look to avoid a sweep in Wednesday morning’s contest, which will have a 10:35 a.m. first pitch.
For the second-straight start, Hot Rods starter Shane Baz allowed a first-inning run. He walked D.J. Artis to begin the game, then struck out Cole Roederer as Artis stole second. After a ground ball moved the runner to third, Jonathan Sierra lined a single to left, scoring Artis to put South Bend up 1-0.
The Hot Rods immediately responded off South Bend starter Derek Casey, as Franco and Chris Betts hit consecutive one-out singles to put runners at the corners. Connor Hollis rolled an infield single to third that scored Franco, tying the game at one apiece.
An inning later, Bowling Green grabbed the lead. Roberto Alvarez led off with a single and advanced to second when Osmy Gregorio was hit by a pitch. After Michael Smith laid down a sacrifice bunt, Ford Proctor doubled to left-center, scoring both runners to give the Hot Rods a 3-1 lead.
South Bend got an unearned run back in the third following an Eric Gonzalez leadoff walk. Gonzalez advanced to second on a throwing error by Alvarez, then scored when Baz knocked down a comebacker but threw errantly to first, allowing Gonzalez to score on the second Bowling Green error of the inning, making it 3-2 Hot Rods.
In the fourth, Casey set down the first two Hot Rods of the inning but Franco unloaded on the first pitch of his at bat, crushing a long home run down the right-field line. His fourth home run of the year cleared the right field concourse and left Bowling Green Ballpark, restoring the Hot Rods’ two-run cushion.
In the sixth, Nick Sprengel relieved Baz and retired the first man he faced, but soon ran into trouble. Andy Weber hit an infield single, then Sierra walked. Nelson Velazquez doubled into the left-field corner, scoring Weber. Tyler Durna followed with a sacrifice fly to center that scored Velazquez, tying the game at four each.
An inning later, the Cubs took the lead as Delvin Zinn drew a leadoff walk and moved to third on Chris Morel’s double. Both men scored on Gonzalez’s two-run single, giving South Bend a 6-4 advantage.
Trey Cumbie entered the game in the eighth and worked around extra-base hits in both the eighth and ninth innings to keep the game within reach. However, Bowling Green’s last nine hitters were retired in order as the Hot Rods fell 6-4.
Baz went 5.0 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits, walking two and striking out five in a no-decision. Sprengel (0-2) went 2.0 innings, allowing four runs on four hits, picking up the loss in addition to his third blown save. Cumbie threw 2.0 shutout innings, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out one.