It was an unlucky seventh inning for the Bowling Green Hot Rods, who fell 5-3 to the Fort Wayne (Ind.) TinCaps on Wednesday at Bowling Green Ballpark.

Fort Wayne broke a 1-all tie with four runs in the seventh and the Hot Rods were unable to rally, falling to the TinCaps for a second straight night.

“It was tough,” Bowling Green manager Reinaldo Ruiz said. “(BG starter Alan Strong) was pitching well until that inning. It was tough for us to come back after that the way we were swinging the bats tonight.”

After being shut out the night before, Bowling Green (38-28) only needed two batters to score – with Wander Franco’s RBI single scoring Michael Smith in the first – but Fort Wayne (30-34) quickly tied it with an RBI double by Lee Solomon in the second.

The Hot Rods were unable to break the tie, hitting into three double plays over the next five innings to set the stage for Fort Wayne’s big inning.

Juan Fernandez broke the tie with a one-out RBI single to right. Strong nearly got out of the inning without further damage with an intentional walk and force out to put runners at the corners with two outs, but Jawaun Harris connected with a three-run homer that pushed the lead to 5-1.

Strong then allowed a single to Xavier Edwards to end his night after 6 2/3 innings. The right-hander allowed five runs and nine hits to drop to 4-3 on the season.

“Alan had been pitching really well and then he couldn’t get that last out,” Rui said. “He gave up that home run, but other than that he did really well. Our bullpen was a little thin tonight, so we were trying to get seven out of him. It didn’t work out tonight.”

The Hot Rods tried to rally in the seventh, with Grant Witherspoon smacking a two-run homer to right to cut the deficit in half.

After Witherspoon’s homer, Roberto Alvarez was hit by a pitch to bring the tying run to the plate, but Beau Brundage hit into the fourth double play of the night to end the rally. Bowling Green got the tying run up again in the eighth but couldn’t cash in. The TinCaps retired the Hot Rods in order in the ninth.

“(Double plays) killed all the rallies tonight,” Ruiz said. “Even though we got nine hits, it is tough to overcome those four double plays.”

Smith and Franco paced the offense with two hits each.

PLAYOFF PICTURE

With the loss, the Hot Rods remained a half-game behind Lake County (Ohio) for second place in the Midwest League Eastern Division with four games left in the first half. The top two finishers in the division in the first half earn a playoff spot.

“Obviously it is good they lost, but we need to play better,” Ruiz said. “We don’t want to leave it to anyone else. We want to take care of business starting tomorrow.”

UP NEXT

The Hot Rods wrap the series with Fort Wayne at 6:35 p.m. Thursday, the final home game of the first half.

Right-hander Easton McGee (4-1, 3.05) is scheduled to start for the Hot Rods. McGee allowed a season-high five runs – four earned – in six innings in his last start against West Michigan on Friday. The Hopkinsville native tossed five shutout innings at Fort Wayne on April 22.

Left-hander Ramon Perez (1-4, 6.34) is scheduled to start for Fort Wayne. Perez is 0-2 in his last three starts, allowing 16 runs in 12 1/3 innings. He has faced the Hot Rods twice this season, both no-decisions, allowing five earned runs in 10 innings of work.{&end}

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

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Sports Writer. Cover prep sports, Hot Rods baseball, Titans football, and is the Daily News staff film critic.

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