Baker Triple Shy of Cycle, Hot Rods Pound Crawdads 8-3

Hickory, North Carolina – Dru Baker drove in a career-tying four RBI during his 3-for-4 performance to push the Bowling Green Hot Rods (27-29) to an 8-3 victory over the Hickory Crawdads (24-33) on Friday night at LP Frans Stadium.

The Bowling Green offense began the scoring in the top of the first against Hickory starter Winston Santos. Baker was hit by a pitch and came around to score on a two-run homer off the bat off Brock Jones, putting the Hot Rods up 2-0. The Crawdads struck back in the bottom of the first with a solo homer by Cody Freeman off Hot Rods starter Roel Garcia, making it 2-1.

Baker returned Bowling Green’s lead back to two in the top of the third with a solo home run over the left centerfield wall, making it a 3-1 ballgame.

In the top of the fourth, Bob Seymour walked and moved up to second on a wild pitch to put a runner in scoring position. Kameron James worked a walk and Kenny Piper singled to center, plating Seymour that increased the Hot Rods lead to 4-1. After Blake Robertson smacked a base hit to load the bases, Jalen Battles was hit by a pitch to score James from third. Baker doubled down the left field line, clearing the bases to move the score to 8-1. Daniel Mateo drove in Max Acosta on an RBI single in the bottom half of the inning, cutting the lead to six.

Hickory scored again in the bottom of the seventh off Bowling Green reliever Antonio Menedez. Keyber Rodriguez singled and Jayce Easley reached on an error to put runners on first and second. Alejandro Osuna knocked a base hit to center, scoring Rodriguez to make it 8-3. Hot Rods reliever Haden Erbe shutdown the Crawdads in the eighth and ninth, carrying Bowling Green to an 8-3 win.

Garcia (3-3) picked up the win, letting up two runs on six hits, two walks, and five strikeouts over 5.0 innings. Santos (3-4) collected the loss, lasting 3.1 frames while allowing seven runs on four hits, two walks, and four strikeouts.

The Hot Rods and Crawdads play the penultimate of a six-game series on Saturday with first pitch set for 6:00 PM CT. Bowling Green is rolling out RHP Austin Vernon (3-1, 5.80), while Hickory is starting RHP Emiliano Teodo (2-0, 2.53)