BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) --- Alan Strong threw 7.0 innings of two-run ball, Grant Witherspoon had four hits, and the Bowling Green Hot Rods scored in four-straight innings to defeat the Dayton Dragons 8-2 in the opening game of a four-game series on Friday night. The Hot Rods improved to 28-20 ahead of Saturday night’s contest at Bowling Green Ballpark, which will have a 6:35 p.m. first pitch.
The Hot Rods struck first in the second inning against Dayton starter Ricky Salinas. After Kaleo Johnson singled and Chris Betts walked, Grant Witherspoon singled into right-center for the first run of the game. Roberto Alvarez followed with a groundout that brought home Betts from third, giving Bowling Green a 2-0 lead.
An inning later, Michael Siani launched a solo home run to right off of Strong, cutting the lead to 2-1. In the bottom of the third, though, the Hot Rods got the run right back on another RBI single by Witherspoon, scoring Wander Franco. However, Dayton left fielder Brian Rey threw out a pair of baserunners at the plate in the inning, keeping it a 3-1 Hot Rods lead.
Bowling Green extended the lead further in the fourth against Salinas. Osmy Gregorio led off with a single then advanced to third on a Beau Brundage double. Michael Smith then hit a grounder to first that Pabel Manzanero could not handle, scoring both runners to give Bowling Green a 5-1 advantage on the two-run error.
The Hot Rods offense continued to tack on runs in the fifth. Bowling Green loaded the bases with nobody out, chasing Salinas. Against reliever Jerry D’Andrea, Gregorio lined an RBI single, Smith brought in a run on a fielder’s choice, and Franco capped off a three-run frame with an RBI single, giving the Hot Rods an 8-1 lead.
Strong allowed a second solo homer, to Brian Rey, to begin the sixth inning. However, he recorded six more outs, before handing the baton off to Trey Cumbie in the eighth, who threw a pair of scoreless innings to nail down the 8-2 victory, giving Bowling Green their third straight win.
Strong (4-1) needed just 68 pitches to finish 7.0 innings, allowing two runs on six hits, while striking out three without walking a hitter in earning his fourth win. Cumbie worked the final two innings, allowing a hit and a walk, while striking out two and keeping Dayton off the board.