Midland, MI -- Jordan Qsar homered and the benches cleared in the ninth inning but the Bowling Green Hot Rods fell to the Great Lakes Loons 7-4 in the middle game of a three-game series at Dow Diamond on Sunday afternoon. The Hot Rods are 68-51 overall and 29-20, one game behind the Loons in the second-half standings with Monday's 11:05 AM CDT first pitch acting as both the three-game and regular-season series finales.
The Hot Rods took a one-run advantage in the second inning against Loons starter Justin Hagenman. Chris Betts worked a one-out walk and went to second on Jonathan Aranda's single to right. Both runners moved up a station after an errant snap throw to first and Roberto Alvarez was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Russ Olive grounded out to second, scoring Betts to give the Hot Rods a 1-0 edge.
The Loons responded with two runs in the bottom of the second thanks to an RBI single by Matt Cogen and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Jair Camargo to take the lead, but the Hot Rods had an answer in the fourth. Jordan Qsar tied the game with a 407-foot home run to left-center, while Betts followed with a triple to right. Alvarez was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game to put runners at the corners and Russ Olive lifted a fly ball to left, allowing Betts to tag and score to give Bowling Green a 3-2 advantage.
Caleb Sampen went five innings, holding the Loons to just two runs, but Great Lakes got to Michael Costanzo out of the bullpen to tie the game and take the lead in the sixth. Romer Cuadrado led off with a solo homer to left-center to tie the game, 3-3. Luke Heyer walked, Leonel Valera singled to center, and Jair Camargo walked to load the bases with two outs. James Outman hit a grand slam to right-center field, finishing off a five-run swing to put the Loons in front 7-3.
The Hot Rods plated a run in the eighth to narrow the gap to 7-4 and Joel Inoa took the mound in the ninth for the Loons with the game coming to a head. With one out and a 2-0 count, Seaver Whalen was hit by a pitch thrown behind him; the third time in two games Whalen had been hit by a Loons hurler. Both benches cleared, but the situation was quickly controlled with no punches or ejections. Inoa continued into the inning, getting the final two outs to force a Monday afternoon rubber match beginning at 11:05 PM CDT.
Sampen allowed two runs on five hits with a walk and seven strikeouts over five innings in a no-decision. Costanzo (0-2) took the loss, allowing five runs on three hits with three walks in 0.2 innings of relief. Nathan Witt tossed a scoreless 2.1 innings, allowing a walk with three strikeouts.