COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. (WBKO) --- Tony Pena had four hits and Chris Betts hit his second grand slam of the season in the Bowling Green Hot Rods 9-7 victory over the West Michigan Whitecaps in the series finale at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, MI. The Hot Rods improve to 27-20 on the season and will begin a four-game series with the Dayton Dragons with a 6:35 PM CDT first pitch. The series is part of a seven-game home stand at Bowling Green Ballpark.
The Hot Rods took a first-inning lead against Wilkel Hernandez and the Whitecaps in the series finale. Michael Smith led off the game with a pop-up to third, but Johnny Valente dropped the ball while Smith reached. Osmy Gregorio lined a triple off the right-field wall to score Smith and make it a 1-0 Hot Rods lead. Wander Franco followed with a double to left-center to plate Gregorio and give Bowling Green a 2-0 advantage.
Bowling Green added a run against Hernandez in the third inning to extend their lead. With two outs, Jake Palomaki walked and went to third when Pena singled to right. Smith singled to right, driving home Palomaki to give Bowling Green a 3-0 lead.
Betts brought the power in the fourth inning to blow the game open against Hernandez and Whitecaps reliever Carson Lance. Franco led off the inning with a single to right and stole second, moving to third on an errant throw. Kaleo Johnson was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game, which was the final pitch of the day for Hernandez. Larson issued a four-pitch walk to load the bases for Betts, who sent a high fly ball over the fence in right-center field to put the Hot Rods up 7-0. The grand slam was Betts’ seventh homer of the season and second grand slam of the year.
The Whitecaps cut into Bowling Green’s lead, sending nine hitters to the plate in the fourth while chasing Cristopher Sanchez from the game. Sam McMillan led off with a single to center while Jordan Pearce walked. Parker Meadows grounded into a fielder’s choice while an errant throw allowed everyone to be safe and McMillan to score. Jeremiah Burks singled to center to make it a 7-2 game, and Chris Proctor singled to drive in Parker Meadows to cut the Hot Rods lead to 7-3.
Gregorio added to the Bowling Green lead with a boom against Lance in the fifth. Gregorio led off the frame by curling the fifth pitch of his at-bat around the right-field foul pole to make it an 8-3 game. The homer was Gregorio’s fourth of the season and second Hot Rods homer of the game.
The Whitecaps scored four runs in the sixth to come within a run, but Bowling Green improved their lead by a score in the seventh. Gregorio was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and went to second when Franco grounded out. Johnson singled to right, driving Gregorio in to make it a 9-7 game.
Sanchez tossed 3.2 innings while allowing three runs on five hits with four walks and three strikeouts in a no-decision. Miller Hogan entered out of the bullpen and threw two pitches to get the final out of the fourth inning. McClanahan (4-3) allowed four runs (three earned) on three hits with five walks and six strikeouts over five innings of work in a win.