Hot Rods Win Second-Straight SAL Championship
Aberdeen, Maryland– Austin Vernon led the pitching staff in a historic shutout in the Bowling Green Hot Rods (2-1) 4-0 victory over the Aberdeen IronBirds (1-2) to win their third championship, and second SAL title in a row. The Hot Rods have won three championships in the last four seasons.
The game was scoreless through four innings, but Bowling Green took the lead in the fifth. With the bases loaded, Aberdeen reliever Kade Strowd balked with two outs to score Logan Driscoll and give the Hot Rods a 1-0 lead. Strowd bounced back to strike out Alexander Ovalles to end the inning and keep it a one-run game.
BG extended their lead in the seventh against Strowd and Nick Richmond. Johan Lopez singled to left and Michael Berglund singled to center. Abiezel Ramirez laid down a sacrifice bunt that moved each runner up a base and Mason Auer doubled down the left-field line, plating them both to give the Hot Rods a 3-0 edge. Richmond replaced Strowd and Ovalles grounded out to short, moving Auer to third. With two outs, Tanner Murray singled to center, driving in Auer to give the Hot Rods a 4-0 advantage.
The Bowling Green bullpen was spectacular, spinning nine shutout innings. Antonio Menendez locked down the ninth, securing the trophy and a rowdy celebration at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.
Ben Peoples left after 2.2 scoreless innings, allowing one hit with three walks and four strikeouts in a no-decision. Austin Vernon (1-0) threw 3.1 shutout frames, holding Aberdeen to two hits and a walk with four strikeouts in a win. Evan Reifert threw 2.0 scoreless, allowing a hit with three strikeouts. Menendez struck out one in the ninth to finish off the win.