BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) --- Caleb Sampen threw his third consecutive quality start and Grant Witherspoon homered and drove in two runs, but the Bowling Green Bootleggers fell 5-2 to the Clinton LumberKings on Thursday night. Bowling Green fell to 19-15 ahead of Friday night’s middle game of the series, which will have a 6:35 p.m. first pitch.
On the mound, Bootleggers starter Caleb Sampen settled in early. The right-hander set down the first eight LumberKings, piling up three strikeouts along the way. He was given the lead in the bottom of the third as Beau Brundage drew a one-out walk off Clinton starter Chris Vallimont, then stole second. Witherspoon followed by rolling a single just inside the third-base line to left field, bringing home Brundage to give the Bootleggers a 1-0 lead.
That score would hold as Sampen and Vallimont traded zeroes across the middle innings. In the process, Sampen finished the sixth inning by extending his scoreless streak to 16.1 consecutive innings, the longest by a Bowling Green pitcher this season.
But Clinton broke through in the seventh, as Jerar Encarnacion and Sean Reynolds opened the inning with back-to-back doubles, tying the game at one apiece. Reynolds went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a one-out single to center by Demetrius Sims, giving the LumberKings the lead. With two outs, Thomas Jones added an RBI double to put Clinton up and end Sampen’s night.
Clinton added some insurance in the ninth, as Sims doubled off Nick Padilla, then scored on a two-run homer by Marcos Rivera to put the LumberKings up 5-1. In the bottom of the inning, Witherspoon launched a solo home run, his second of the season, but the Bootleggers drew no closer in a 5-2 loss.
Sampen (2-2) went 6.2 innings, allowing three runs on six hits, striking out six without issuing a walk in taking the loss. Nick Padilla came out of the bullpen and allowed two runs on two hits in 2.1 innings.