Bowling Green, Ky. (WBKO) --- Alan Strong allowed one run in 6.1 innings and Chris Betts had three hits as the Bowling Green Hot Rods squeaked by the Clinton LumberKings 2-1 to take the rubber game of the three-game series at Bowling Green Ballpark. The Hot Rods move to 21-15 ahead of Sunday’s off-day, which precedes Monday’s 6:35 first pitch against South Bend.
In the second inning, the Hot Rods struck first for the third straight game. Chris Betts led off by lining a double into the right-field corner off Clinton starter George Soriano, then immediately went to third on a wild pitch. Betts remained on third as the next two hitters grounded out with the infield drawn in. However, Soriano uncorked another wild pitch to bring home Betts to give the Hot Rods a 1-0 lead.
Bowling Green extended their lead in the bottom of the sixth against Soriano. Wander Franco led off with a single, then stole second. Kaleo Johnson followed by lining a full-count pitch to the wall in right-center, scoring Franco with an RBI double that chased Soriano from the game, while giving Bowling Green a 2-0 advantage.
In the top of the seventh, Clinton responded by mounting a rally against Strong. Sean Reynolds led off with a double, followed by a hit batter. After a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position, Strong induced a shallow fly ball to center from Will Banfield that failed to advance either runner. He then departed in favor of Cristofer Ogando, who walked Zach Scott to load the bases.
Ogando struck out Marcos Rivera for the second out, but walked Ricardo Cespedes on a full count to force in a run, closing the gap to 2-1, Bowling Green. Connor Scott then rolled a ground ball to the right side, but Kaleo Johnson made a diving stop and threw off-balance to Ogando, who beat Scott to first to end the inning, preserving the lead. Joel Peguero came out of the bullpen in the eighth and allowed one hit over two scoreless innings, nailing down his first save to secure a 2-1 win to take the series.
Strong (2-1) worked 6.1 innings, allowing one run on five hits, striking out four without issuing a walk to earn the win. Ogando got the final two outs of the seventh, walking two and striking out one without allowing a hit, earning his second hold. Peguero recorded the final six outs, allowing one hit over two scoreless innings in earning his first save.
Notes: Betts collected his eighth multi-hit game of the season and his second in a row…Betts also tied a season-high with three hits…Johnson extended his hitting streak to six games…Tony Pena collected his fourth multi-hit game, tying a season-high with his two hits…Strong worked 6.1 innings, the longest start of his career and the second-longest appearance of his career (7.0 innings in relief on May 5 at Peoria)…Bowling Green hit into three double plays, tying a season high (also 4/13 vs. Fort Wayne)…The Hot Rods have had seven of their 11 games in May decided by one run, going 5-2 in those contests (6-5 overall)…BG is now 18-8 in games against a right-handed starter…The Hot Rods are 7-4 in one-run games…BG is 12-6 when they score first…Bowling Green is 16-4 when they out-hit their opponents…The Hot Rods are 6-1 in rubber games this season…Bowling Green is 18-11 all-time against Clinton, 6-8 at Bowling Green Ballpark…The Hot Rods will have Sunday off before facing the South Bend Cubs on Monday night with a 6:35 p.m. first pitch...RHP Easton McGee (3-0, 2.15) will face South Bend RHP Derek Casey (1-1, 4.85)…It will be another Merchandise Monday, featuring select discounted merchandise at the Body Shop team store…Fans can catch all the action with Shawn Murnin on Willie 107.9 FM, as well as, with their smart phones via the MiLB First Pitch app and TuneIn Radio app.