The second half of the Midwest League season got underway Thursday, and I’m kicking it off with a four-day stay in Bowling Green to see the Hot Rods host the Dayton Dragons.
This is my first trip back to the Kentucky city since 2011, the year I went to all 16 MWL ballparks and started this blog as a chronicle of my travels. The Midwest League Traveler website has grown quite a bit since its humble beginnings, and I’m happy to report that Bowling Green Ballpark also has gotten better with age. Many improvements were made over the past few years; I will write more about them in a future post, but here is a teaser photo of one of the most obvious changes.
Anyway, both teams picked up where they left off at the end of the first half. The Dragons won 3-2, giving them nine wins in their last 10 games. The Hot Rods lost their eighth consecutive game after going 10-2 in their previous dozen.
The winning run was a solo homer by Avain Rachal, who had three hits in the game. Bowling Green’s Riley Unroe also had three hits.
Hunter Lockwood went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI for the Hot Rods.
Dayton’s Brian O’Grady hit a double in the 6th inning to extend his hitting streak to 13 consecutive games. Gavin LaValley went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, but the Dragons infielder entered the game leading all of Minor League Baseball with a .431 batting average since May 27.
Dragons LHP Seth Varner got the win, improving to 7-4 this season. He gave up two runs on six hits in seven innings. He struck out four and walked none. In fact, no pitcher issued a walk in the game, which lasted only two hours and 13 minutes.
Hot Rods RHP Enderson Franco got a no-decision after giving up two runs (one earned) on six hits. He struck out six batters.
Game 2 of the series is scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m. CST, with RHP Wyatt Strahan (5-4, 3.28 ERA) starting for the Dragons and RHP Greg Harris (3-5, 2.72 ERA) taking the hill for the Hot Rods.
Hot Rods transactions
Two of Bowling Green’s All-Star players were promoted to High-A before the game. RHP Brent Honeywell and utility man Jace Conrad were replaced on the roster by LHP Jordan Harrison and catcher Sean Smedley.
*All photos by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler