BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) --- Grant Witherspoon homered for the seventh time this season, but the Bowling Green Hot Rods could not overcome a four-run seventh by the Fort Wayne TinCaps as the Bowling Green Hot Rods lost 5-3 on Wednesday night at Bowling Green Ballpark. The Hot Rods fell to 38-28 ahead of the series finale on Thursday night, with a 6:35 p.m. first pitch.
After Alan Strong threw a scoreless first, the Hot Rods struck first against Fort Wayne starter Sam Keating. Michael Smith led off with a single, then advanced to second on an errant pickoff toss by Keating. Wander Franco followed with an RBI single to center, bringing home Smith for a 1-0 lead.
The lead didn’t last long, as the TinCaps mounted a two-out rally. After Strong retired the first two hitters of the inning, Juan Fernandez singled to left. Lee Solomon followed with a double to right-center, scoring Fernandez all the way from first to tie the game at one apiece.
The score remained 1-1 through the middle innings as both Strong and Keating induced multiple double plays to aid their cause. The Hot Rods had a promising opportunity to take the lead in the sixth as Smith walked and Franco singled with one out, but Kaleo Johnson rolled into double play to end the inning.
In the seventh, Fort Wayne finally broke through against Strong. Agustin Ruiz doubled to start the inning, moved to third on a groundout, then scored on a single by Fernandez to break the tie. Following an intentional walk and fielder’s choice, Jawuan Harris provided the key blow, launching a three-run homer to left, giving the TinCaps a 5-1 lead.
Bowling Green chipped away against Keating in the bottom of the seventh. Chris Betts led off with a single, then came home two batters later on a two-run homer by Witherspoon. His seventh homer of the season cut the deficit to 5-3. However, the Hot Rods drew no closer against two Fort Wayne relievers, falling for the second straight night.
Strong (4-3) went 6.2 innings, allowing five runs on nine hits, walking two and striking out three as he took his third loss of the season. Nick Padilla came out of the bullpen, throwing 2.1 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out two.