Bowling Green, Ky. (WBKO) --- The Bowling Green Hot Rods rode three home runs and five innings of one-hit ball from Caleb Sampen to a 13-2 win, improving to 2-2 and securing a split of the season-opening series with the Dayton Dragons at Bowling Green Ballpark. The Hot Rods head to Lake County to open a three-game series on Monday night with a 5:30 P.M. CDT first pitch.
The Hot Rods pounded out 15 hits, drew ten walks, and saw all nine hitters collect at least one hit apiece. Dayton got the upper hand right away as Michael Siani led off the game with a single to center, then promptly stole second and third before coming home on a sacrifice fly by Mariel Bautista.
Bowling Green would immediately answer in the bottom half of the inning against Dayton starter James Marinan, as Wander Franco singled with one out, then came home as Connor Hollis teed off on a 2-1 pitch and launched it over the left field wall for his first home run of the season, giving the Hot Rods a 2-1 lead.
The Hot Rods extended the lead an inning later as Bryce Brown reached on an infield single, advanced on an error, then scored on Michael Smith’s RBI single to make it 3- 1.
Sampen took control from there, mowing through the Dragons in order over the third, fourth, and fifth inning. The Bowling Green right-hander retired the final ten batters he faced, striking out five of those hitters.
In the bottom of the fifth, Hollis doubled down the third base line, then Witherspoon doubled the Hot Rod lead against Dayton reliever Julio Pinto. Witherspoon turned on a 2-1 pitch and ripped it off the scoreboard in right-center for a two-run shot that travelled 403 feet to make it a 5-1 game.
Trey Cumbie made his season debut in the sixth and walked the first two hitters he faced, but kept the damage to a minimum, allowing another sacrifice fly to Bautista, but nothing more, exiting the inning with a 5-2 advantage.
In the seventh, the Hot Rods eliminated any doubt, batting around and scoring four times. Roberto Alvarez doubled to deep left center off Dayton reliever Connor Bennett, bringing home two runs, then Osmy Gregorio lined his first home run of the season just over the left field wall for a two-run shot.
Bowling Green eclipsed the ten-run mark off Andy Cox in the eighth inning by sending ten men to the plate. Roberto Alvarez rolled an RBI groundout, followed by an RBI walk by Michael Smith, an RBI single by Ford Proctor, and another base-loaded walk, this time to Wander Franco, to complete the scoring.
Sampen (1-0) picked up his first professional win, working 5.0 innings, allowing one run on one hit, while walking one and striking out six. Trey Cumbie allowed a run over 2.0 hitless innings, walking and striking out three. Cristofer Ogando finished off the contest, working 2.0 scoreless innings, working around a hit, two walks, and a hit batter.