The Bowling Green Hot Rods’ playoff push continued with a 4-0 win Monday over West Michigan at Bowling Green Ballpark.

Caleb Sampen and Nick Sprengel combined on a four-hitter as Bowling Green (38-26) bounced back from a three-game sweep at South Bend (Ind.) in the previous series to sweep West Michigan in four and stay ahead of Lake County (Ohio) in the race for a playoff spot with six games left in the first half.

“It was definitely a huge series for us, to win those four games after a bad series against South Bend,” Bowling Green manager Reinaldo Ruiz said. “That was huge for us, especially since we are in a playoff spot. The boys played really well.

“Caleb set the tone for us. He was amazing today. He was making good pitches when he needed – throwing strikes.”

Bowling Green got the bulk of its offensive output in one third-inning burst.

After West Michigan (20-44) starter Chance Kirby retired the first seven hitters, Bowling Green broke through with five straight hits – including a two-run single by Michael Smith and an RBI double by Kaleo Johnson – to make the score 3-0.

The Hot Rods only scored one more time – a solo homer from Roberto Alvarez in the seventh – but that was more than enough for Sampen and Sprengel.

Sampen (4-3) won for the first time since May 22, allowing four hits with one walk and four strikeouts in seven innings. The right-hander threw 92 pitches, 59 for strikes, and worked six innings or more for the eighth straight start. It was his team best-seventh quality start this season.

“Me and (catcher Chris Betts) talked a little bit before the game about how to game plan against their hitters,” Sampen said. “We were able to get everything working early, giving them a bunch of different looks and making it tough for the hitters – for their timing and everything.”

Sprengel finished it off, retiring all six batters he faced in two innings of work.

Alvarez paced the offense with three hits.


For the second straight day, right-hander Shane Baz was scratched from a scheduled start as he remained sidelined with an illness.

“He’s only 19 years old and has lost some weight,” Ruiz said. “He’s weak right now and we just want to keep him healthy. When he feels comfortable and strong again, he is going to be back in the rotation.”


Already an all-star, Betts will have extra duty during next week’s all-star festivities in South Bend – with the Midwest League announcing Monday that he would be one of eight participants in the event.

“I hope he wins,” Ruiz said. “I think he’s got a good chance to win. He’s very excited about it and hopefully he will bring the home run derby championship home.”


The Hot Rods will open a three-game series with Fort Wayne (Ind.), the final home series of the first half, at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday.

Right-hander Miller Hogan (0-0, 1.62) is scheduled to start for the Hot Rods. Hogan will making his first start for the Hot Rods after appearing in six games out of the bullpen. The right-hander has thrown 14 2/3 innings, allowing three runs and nine hits with 12 strikeouts.

Fort Wayne has yet to announce a starter.{&end}

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


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

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