Bowling Green, Ky. (WBKO) --- Kaleo Johnson swatted a walk-off single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth inning to secure a 4-3 win in the nightcap of Sunday’s doubleheader, to earn a doubleheader split and a series victory over the Fort Wayne TinCaps at Bowling Green Ballpark. The Hot Rods improved to 5-6 ahead of Monday’s series opener against the Lake County Captains, with a 6:35 p.m. first pitch.
The Hot Rods and TinCaps picked up the first game of the twin bill with Fort Wayne leading 3-0, thanks to a three-run homer by Michael Curry in the fourth inning on Saturday night before the game was suspended with two outs in the top of the fourth inning.
The TinCaps added two more runs in the fifth against Hot Rods reliever Trey Cumbie. With one out, Xavier Edwards singled and stole second while Tucupita Marcano walked. After both runners advanced on a wild pitch, Blake Hunt singled home both runners to make it a 5-0 Fort Wayne advantage. The TinCaps kept the Bowling Green bats in check, allowing just four hits the entire game.
Fort Wayne extended their lead in the ninth, with Agustin Ruiz plating Jawuan Harris with two outs to give the TinCaps a 6-0 lead. They went on to win by the same score in nine innings to force a rubber match in game two of the twin bill.
Caleb Sampen (1-1) took the loss, going 3.2 innings in the game before it was suspended, allowing three runs on four hits, walking one and striking out five hitters. Cumbie allowed two runs on six hits in 4.0 innings of relief, walking one and striking out six. Miguel Lara allowed a run in 1.1 innings in relief.
In the second game, Hot Rods starter Shane McClanahan issued a pair of walks in the first, but he got out of the inning with a double play. He encountered more traffic on the bases in the second, allowing back-to-back singles, before inducing another twin-killing and a strikeout to end the inning.
In the third, Fort Wayne broke through to take the lead. Harris led off with a double, then advanced to third as an errant pick-off throw from McClanahan sailed into center field. Harris then came home on a sacrifice fly from Edwards to give the TinCaps a 1-0 lead.
Fort Wayne retained the lead into the bottom of the fifth. Roberto Alvarez struck out against TinCaps lefty Ramon Perez to begin the inning but reached base on a passed ball on the third strike advanced to second on a ball in the dirt. After a strikeout and foul out, Bryce Brown dumped a single into shallow center that scored Alvarez and tied the game at one apiece.
In the sixth, Wander Franco roped a one-out double to right-center, then advanced to third on a single to left by Ford Proctor. With Kaleo Johnson at the plate, Proctor wandered too far from first and was caught in a rundown. While Proctor was tagged out, Franco broke for home and slid in ahead of the throw from Edwards to give Bowling Green a 2-1 lead.
Nick Padilla returned in the seventh for his second inning in relief and retired the first two batters before surrendering a long home run to Harris that tied the game. In the bottom of the seventh, the Hot Rods got a runner into scoring position, but couldn’t break through, sending the game to extra innings.
In the eighth, Edwards started on second and immediately scored when Connor Hollis made an errant on Marcano’s bunt. Marcano wound up on third as Fort Wayne took a 3-2 lead. Padilla issued a pair of walks, but struck out two and induced a flyout from Luis Almanzar with two outs to leave the bases loaded and keep it a one-run game.
In the bottom of the inning, Jake Palomaki began on second and moved to third as Bryce Brown beat out a bunt-single. Palomaki came home on a safety squeeze by Michael Smith to tie the game. Franco lined out to right, but Ruiz’s throw to third was errant, moving Brown and Smith into scoring position. After Proctor was intentionally walked, Kaleo Johnson served a 1-2 pitch into left field to score Brown and a secure a walk-off 4-3 win.
McClanahan worked 5.0 innings in the contest, surrendering a run on five hits, while walking three and striking out five. Padilla (1-0) finished the contest, working the final 3.0 innings in relief, allowing two runs, one earned, on two hits, while striking out five and walking two in earning his first win.