Two swings were all Burlington (Iowa) needed to beat the Bowling Green Hot Rods 3-1 on Friday at Bowling Green Ballpark.
The Bees hit a pair of home runs to take the lead, and Burlington starter Ryan Crowley made it stand – evening the three-game series at a game apiece.
"I thought Ryan Crowley pitched a really good ballgame," BG manager Jared Sandberg said. "Their pitchers threw strikes. We didn't have any walks offensively, which has been a huge part of our game coming in. He kept us off balance, and they had the two big hits to pick him up and there is your ballgame."
After pitching dominated the first three innings, Burlington broke out the lumber in the fourth off BG starter Sean Bierman.
Wade Hinkle put Burlington on the board with a solo home run into the Bees' bullpen with two outs in the inning. After Anthony Bemboom singled, Chevy Clarke homered into the BG bullpen to make it 3-0.
"That's going to happen," Sandberg said. "It was a couple of times through the order and they got to him. You can single out a couple of pitches, but you definitely tip your cap."
The three-batter stretch was the only blip of the night for Bierman in four innings of work, but it was enough to give him his first loss of the season. The left-hander saw his ERA climb from 0.56 to 1.80, allowing three runs and four hits with six strikeouts and a walk.
"I got behind a couple of hitters and made a couple of bad pitches," Bierman said. "They were sitting on fastball and got a couple of home runs. You know what, it happens. I'll bounce back from it."
That would be the only runs of the night for Burlington.
BG relievers Nick Henderson and Nick Sawyer combined for five shutout innings, but the BG bats were unable to get anything going off Crowley.
The left-hander went seven innings, allowing five hits with six strikeouts.
The only serious threat off Crowley came in the fifth, when Leonardo Reginatto and Tommy Coyle collected back-to-back singles with one out. Crowley got out of the jam as Joey Rickard hit a broken bat grounder to third for an inning-ending double play.
Crowley retired the final seven batters he faced.
The Hot Rods' offense finally broke through in the eighth off the Burlington bullpen.
Coyle singled with one out, stole second, then came home on Joey Rickard's RBI single. The rally ended there, with Burlington getting a strikeout/caught stealing double play to end the inning.
"I think the Rickard caught stealing was one pitch too late," Sandberg said. "He should have taken second base on the previous pitch, the one that kicked away. He tried to make up for it ... the catcher just made a great play."
BG had one more chance in the ninth, when Justin O'Conner doubled with one out, but Jairo Diaz got the final two outs to preserve the win.
Bowling Green outhit the Bees 8-6.
Coyle and O'Conner had two hits each to pace the offense.
"It was a good effort," Sandberg said. "We're playing good baseball. I said last night, Burlington's record doesn't tell us the whole story about their team. I think they are a good ballclub."
The teams will play the rubber match of the series at 7:05 p.m. today with a matchup of right-handers.
Eduar Quinonez (1-1, 10.95) is scheduled to start for the Hot Rods. Alex Keudell (1-1, 2.60) will take the hill for Burlington.
•Coyles is 10 for 17 on the current homestand.
•Sawyer has not allowed an earned run in five straight appearances.
•It was the first time this season the Hot Rods have allowed multiple home runs in a game.