BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) --- Kaleo Johnson and Tony Pena had two RBI hits in a four-run eighth inning, breaking a 1-1 tie and propelling the Bowling Green Hot Rods to a rubber-game victory over the Burlington Bees on Wednesday afternoon at Bowling Green Ballpark. The Hot Rods continue their home stand with Thursday’s 6:35 p.m. first pitch against the Clinton LumberKings.
Shane Baz made his season debut, starting for the Hot Rods. He kicked off his outing with a strikeout, but Kevin Maitan lofted a high fly ball that curled around the left field foul pole for a solo home run, giving Burlington a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, the Hot Rods got the run back against Burlington starter Robinson Pina despite not hitting a ball out of the infield. Ford Proctor beat out an infield single to first, then stole second. After moving to third on a groundout, Proctor came home on an infield single to third by Johnson, tying the game at one apiece.
The score remained tied as Baz and Pina both settled in. Baz stranded a leadoff double by Burlington in the top of the fourth, though Pina stranded Hot Rod baserunners in scoring position in both the third and fourth. In the sixth, Joel Peguero came on for his first appearance of the season. An inning later, Peguero gave up a one-out triple to D.C. Arendas, but he buckled down, striking out Harrison Wenson and Connor Fitzsimons to keep the score tied through seven innings.
In the eighth, Proctor drew a leadoff walk against Connor Higgins, then moved to third with one out as Chris Betts reached second on a fielding error by centerfielder Jordyn Adams. Johnson broke the tie by singling through a drawn-in infield, scoring both runners to make it 3-1, Bowling Green. The Hot Rods weren’t done as Jake Palomaki was hit by a pitch, followed immediately by a two-run double from Tony Pena that scored both runners that gave the Hot Rods a 5-1 lead.
For the second straight game, however, Burlington did not go quietly in the ninth. Trey Cumbie allowed a two-run homer to Wenson with two outs to cut the lead to 5-3. Cumbie walked Fitzsimons and allowed a single to Justin Jones, with an error by Grant Witherspoon moving both runners into scoring position. Cumbie, though, shut the door by striking out Adams with the tying run on second to cap off the rubber-game victory.
Baz tossed 5.0 innings in his season debut, allowing one run on five hits, striking out seven in a no-decision. Peguero worked two innings, allowing two hits, but striking out five. Cumbie (1-0) earned his first win, tossing the final two innings, allowing two runs on two hits and two walks, while striking out four batters.