For a second straight night, an early lead led to a late defeat for the Bowling Green Hot Rods, who fell 13-9 to the Beloit (Wis.) Snappers on Thursday at Bowling Green Ballpark.

Bowling Green (54-36 overall, 14-6 second half) chased Snappers starter Richard Gausch in the second inning but was unable to hold a four-run lead – allowing Beloit (33-54, 6-13) to rally and pull away for a second straight win.

The Snappers, who entered the series hitting .214 as a team, pounded out 20 hits – the most allowed in a game by Bowling Green this season – and have scored 22 runs in the first two games of the three-game series.

“You have to play the entire game,” Bowling Green coach Jeremy Owens said. “You can’t just rely on your pitching or hitting. You have to play a complete game. It’s 27 outs and if you don’t get that, then these kind of games happen. Unfortunately for us, we just had some lapses. We got the lead early and – I don’t want to say we went through the motions, but we just did not stay focused and stay on task on finish the game.”

Just like Wednesday’s series opener, Bowling Green and Beloit locked up in a wild back-and-forth slugfest, with the Snappers able to get some separation late.

Both teams scored in the first, and Beloit took a 3-1 lead on a home run by Nick Ward in the second. The Hot Rods answered with six in the bottom of the inning – including two-run singles from Grant Witherspoon and Roberto Alvarez and an RBI double by Jonathan Aranda – to chase Snappers starter Richard Gausch and surge in front 7-3.

The lead was short-lived, with Beloit scoring four runs off BG starter Matthew Libertore in the fourth – tying the score 7-all.

A sacrifice fly by Connor Hollis gave BG the advantage back in the bottom of the fourth, but Beloit answered again – regaining the edge on a two-run double by Logan Farrar and added two more in the seventh to push the margin to 11-8.

The lead grew to 13-8 after the Snappers scored twice in the eighth. Tony Pena’s solo homer in the bottom of the eighth capped the score, with the Hot Rods unable to get any closer.

“Some of these guys are testing new waters playing a full season for the first time,” Owens said. “You don’t just play 12 outs or 21 outs. You have to play all 27 outs and finish the game.”

Rafael Kelly (3-1) allowed one run and one hit over five innings of relief to earn the win for Beloit. Nathan Witt (1-3) took the loss for the Hot Rods after allowing two runs in two innings, while starter Matthew Liberatore allowed a career-high seven runs and 10 hits – including the first homer allowed as a professional spanning 86 innings pitched.

Witherspoon, Osmy Gregorio and Pena paced the offense with two hits each.

FILLING IN

Owens is filling in as the Hot Rods manager in place of Reinaldo Ruiz, who is away for a few days for personal time.

(ALMOST) CYCLE

After a single, homer and triple in his first three at-bats, Ward got three chances in the final four innings to hit a double and complete the first cycle in Bowling Green Ballpark history. Ward was unable to get the final hit – flying out in the sixth, striking out in the seventh and walking in the ninth.

ANOTHER LONG NIGHT

After Wednesday night’s four hour and one minute game set the franchise record for longest nine-inning game, Bowling Green and Beloit had another marathon night with Thursday’s game lasting three hours and 36 minutes. It was the second longest nine-inning game this season.

UP NEXT

The series concludes at 6:35 p.m. Friday.

Right-hander Shane Baz (3-1, 3.38) is scheduled to start for the Hot Rods. Baz suffered his first loss of the season in his last start against Dayton on July 5, allowing seven runs and seven hits in 3 1/3 innings. He is 1-1 with a 7.30 in three starts in the second half after posting a 1.44 ERA in five starts in the first half.

Right-hander Reid Birlingmair (2-5, 5.12) is scheduled to start for the Snappers. Birlingmair is winless over his last nine appearances – eight starts. He got a no decision in his last start at Wisconsin on Saturday – tossing six innings and allowing two unearned runs and four hits with seven strikeouts.{&end}

– Follow Hot Rods reporter Micheal Compton on Twitter @mcompton428 or visit bgdailynews.com.

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