BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) --- Grant Witherspoon had three hits while Jordan Qsar and Kevin Santiago homered to help the Bowling Green Hot Rods erase an eight-run deficit over six innings on Sunday, but the rally fell short in an 11-10 loss to the South Bend Cubs. The Hot Rods fall to 2-2 in the second half and 41-33 overall, with a league-wide off day scheduled for Monday.
South Bend took an early lead and piled on, scoring a total of eight runs over the first three innings of play while Cubs starter Cam Sanders got the better of the Hot Rods lineup until the fourth. Qsar put the Hot Rods on the board with a solo homer to cut the Cubs lead to 8-1. The blast hit the scoreboard in right field and was Qsar’s first of the season.
South Bend improved their lead in the fourth with a run against Bowling Green reliever Nick Sprengel, but the Hot Rods answered back in the fifth with a pair of their own to chase Sanders from the game. Santiago was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and Wander Franco walked to put runners at first and second. Ford Proctor grounded into a fielder’s choice that moved Santiago to third and retired Franco at second, but Roberto Alvarez doubled to right to score Santiago and make it a 9-2 game. Alvarez scored when Witherspoon doubled to left, cutting the Cubs lead to six.
Bowling Green scored again in the sixth, this time plating two more runs on a big-fly off Cubs reliever Eugino Palma. With one out, Seaver Whalen singled to left on the first pitch of his at-bat. Beau Brundage hit a deep fly ball to center field for the second out of the inning but Santiago followed and slugged the second pitch he saw over the left-field fence for a two-run homer. The shot was Santiago’s first of the season and made it a 9-5 ballgame.
The Hot Rods continued their charge in the seventh against Palma to knock him out of the game. Proctor led off with a walk and with one out, Witherspoon singled to right to move Proctor to third. A wild pitch scored Proctor while Witherspoon took second and after a walk to Qsar, Chris Betts sent the first pitch of hit at-bat into right field, plating Witherspoon to make it a 9-7 game.
Franco tripled to left with one out in the eighth inning with one out, and Proctor lifted a sacrifice fly to right to make it a one-run game at 9-8. South Bend scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning against Hot Rods reliever Trey Cumbie to give the Cubs a three-run advantage, but Bowling Green offense wasn’t done.
Cubs closer Ethan Roberts took the mound for the second time in the series in the ninth inning, but the Hot Rods drew within a run against the righty. Witherspoon led off with a two-strike single to right and took second with two outs on defensive indifference. Whalen reached on a fielding error in left with Witherspoon scoring to make it an 11-9 game. Whalen went to second on defensive indifference and scored when Brundage doubled to left field, cutting the deficit to one run. After a mound visit, Santiago grounded out to second base, cutting off the rally and ending the game with the Cubs picking up a win, 11-10.
Alan Strong (4-4) threw two innings in the loss, allowing seven runs on nine hits with two strikeouts in a loss. Sprengel worked two innings himself, with the Cubs scoring two runs on four hits with two strikeouts. Nick Padilla pitched three scoreless frames allowing a hit with a walk and a strikeout. Cumbie allowed two unearned runs on two hits with a walk and three strikeouts over one inning out of the bullpen.