An all-around offensive attack led the Bowling Green Hot Rods to an 8-1 win over Dayton (Ohio) on Sunday night at Bowling Green Ballpark.
The Hot Rods (31-18) — winners of six of their last eight — racked up 15 hits and were led by Taylor Walls, who went 4-for-5 with two RBI at the plate.
"I've been pleased with the way we've been playing all season," Bowling Green manager Craig Albernaz said. "Even when we had that six-game skid, we were still playing good baseball. Offensively, the guys keep having great at-bats. They're not trying to do too much, they take their walks when they need to, they take the base hit to right field and let the next guy up put a ball in the gap."
The win helped Bowling Green take a 2-1 series lead over the Dragons (25-23). The two sides will play their fourth and final game of the slate at 12:05 p.m. Monday.
Bowling Green and Dayton played two-and-a-half scoreless innings before the Hot Rods broke loose for five combined runs in the third and fourth innings to build a comfortable lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
"That's what we try to do as a team -- win games," Walls said. "When you win games, everybody has fun. Just grind your at-bats out, stick to your approach and let the guy behind you do the work."
Behind Walls’ big outing, Vidal Brujan went 2-for-5 with two RBI, while Moises Gomez finished 2-for-4 with an RBI. Jhonleider Salinas started for the Hot Rods and allowed three hits with two strikeouts in five innings of work, while Hunter Schryver closed with three scoreless innings and six strikeouts to earn the save.
"Our pitching staff has been outstanding," Albernaz said. "All year, grinding it out, guys stepping up in situations. Salinas stepping up, (Tyler) Day coming in for an inning where he's coming off the DL and hasn't pitched yet and had a good inning and Schryver closing it out was huge for us."
After two-and-a-half scoreless innings, Bowling Green got its bats going.
With Brujan on after reaching on an error, Walls stepped up to the plate with two outs and singled into left field to plate his predecessor and gave the Hot Rods a 1-0 lead to end the third inning.
The Hot Rods — and Walls — unloaded in the ensuing frame.
"All the energy gets contagious," Albernaz said. "The guys just feed off each other. We have a great group of guys, and they love to play the game. It makes everything so much easier when the guys love to play the game. At-bats, they don't get too high or too low -- they just go out there and grind away and hopefully drive a ball in the gap."
Behind six hits, including five in a row, Bowling Green scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth to extend its lead to 5-0. Following Gomez’s leadoff single, Ronaldo Hernandez doubled into centerfield to plate Gomez and made it 2-0.
Carl Chester delivered an RBI triple in the next at-bat, and Devin Davis and Walls followed up with RBI singles shortly after to put the Hot Rods up by five runs entering the fifth.
Dayton scratched its first run across on a single from Michael Beltre in the top of the sixth, but the Dragons still trailed 5-1.
Leading by four runs, the Hot Rods weren't finished adding to their side of the scoreboard.
Behind five hits in the bottom of the eighth, Bowling Green plated three more runs to build an 8-1 advantage and seal it. After Jim Haley singled, Brujan sent a ball directly down the right field line and it resulted in a two-run, inside-the-park homerun. Gomez then followed with an RBI single to record the Hot Rods eighth run and put Dayton away for good.
"The bond this team has ... the guys just come to the field wanting to have fun, so it definitely takes the pressure off you as an individual," Walls said. "Do what you've gotta do and try to play to the best of your ability when you have guys around here that just make the game fun every day."DAY – 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 – 1 6 1BG – 0 0 1 4 0 0 0 3 x – 8 15 0WP: Salinas. LP: Naughton. S: Schryver.–Senior writer Tyler Mansfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @TMansfieldST.–