COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. (WBKO) --- The Bowling Green Hot Rods rallied with a three-run ninth inning to earn a come-from-behind victory over the West Michigan Whitecaps, 5-4, in the series opener on Monday night. The Hot Rods improve to 25-19 and will play the second game of the series at Fifth Third Ballpark with a 6:05 PM CDT first pitch on Tuesday.
The Whitecaps jumped out to a lead in the third inning against Hot Rods starter Shane Baz. Avery Tuck worked a leadoff walk and went to third when Jose King dropped a bunt down in front of home plate. Bowling Green catcher, Roberto Alvarez, made an errant throw to first that got away from Connor Hollis to put runners at the corners. A passed ball scored Tuck from third to make it 1-0, but Johnny Valente followed up with a single to left, plating King and giving the Whitecaps a 2-0 advantage.
The Hot Rods cut the deficit to one in the fifth against Whitecaps starter Gio Arriera. Osmy Gregorio led off with a double to left and with one out, Michael Smith rolled a single to center field. The hit scored Gregorio and made it a 2-1 ballgame.
Bowling Green tied the game in the sixth to chase Arriera from the game. With one out, Ford Proctor walked and stole second with two outs. Jake Palomaki walked in a full count and Gregorio singled to left field, scoring Proctor to tie the game. Whitecaps left fielder Ulrich Bojarski made a throwing error on the play, allowing Palomaki and Gregorio to move up to second and third, but reliever Jared Tobey got Beau Brundage to ground out to first, ending the inning and the threat.
West Michigan took the lead back in the eighth against Hot Rods reliever Nick Padilla. Valente led off with a single to center and went to second on Alvarez’s second error of the game. Sam McMillan walked and a sacrifice bunt by Parker Meadows put runners at second and third with one out. Bojarski singled to left to score Valente and move McMillan to third. Reynaldo Rivera doubled to right, scoring McMillan and giving the Whitecaps a two-run cushion at 4-2.
The Hot Rods rallied late, connecting with five hits in the ninth against West Michigan reliever Angel Reyes to take their first lead of the game. Gregorio led off with a single and went to third when Brundage singled to right. Smith lifted a sacrifice fly to right, plating Gregorio to make it a 4-3 game. Tony Pena followed with a single to center, moving Brundage to second, and Wander Franco singled to right on the second pitch of his at-bat to plate Brundage and tie the game while moving Pena to third. Connor Hollis lined a single to right three pitches later to score Pena, giving the Hot Rods a 5-4 lead. Joel Peguero took the mound for Bowling Green in the bottom of the inning, working around a hit to secure the win.
Baz tossed five innings while allowing two runs on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts in a no-decision. Padilla (4-1) earned a win, allowing two runs on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Peguero earned his third save of the year, allowing one hit in his one inning of work.