Liberatore Quiets Lugnuts, 7-1
LANSING, Mich. - Matthew Liberatore, the 16th overall pick in the 2018 draft, struck out nine batters in seven shutout innings, and the Bowling Green Hot Rods (39-30) stopped the Lansing Lugnuts (31-37), 7-1, in front of a Saturday night crowd of 7,711 at Cooley Law School Stadium.
The Lugnuts' lone run - call it a Solo story on Star Wars night - came on a Nick Podkul RBI triple off reliever Cristofer Ogando in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Otherwise, the force was with Liberatore (Win, 5-0), who limited the Lugnuts to three hits and a walk and pitched out of first-and-third, one-out jams in both the sixth and the seventh innings to finish with a clean sheet.
The Hot Rods scored four runs in the first inning against starting pitcher Josh Hiatt (Loss, 1-3), adding two runs in the fifth against Hiatt and reliever Joey Pulido (with Hiatt departing due to injury precaution with a 3-2 count on the first batter of the frame), and finishing with a run in the sixth inning against Troy Watson.
Watson tossed the final four innings in relief, allowing just the one run on four hits and one walk while striking out two.
The Nuts finished with five hits, spread among Podkul, D.J. Neal, Luis De Los Santos, Reggie Pruitt and new second baseman LJ Talley, who was drafted by the Blue Jays in the seventh round from the University of Georgia and made his professional debut with a single in three at-bats plus a pair of sparkling defensive plays.
Bowling Green, in contrast, amassed 12 hits, with right fielder Grant Witherspoon finishing 4-for-5 with four singles.
The final game of the first half is a special Sunday Delta Dental Kids Day on Father's Day beginning at 1:05 p.m., with Lugnuts right-hander Troy Miller (5.29 ERA) taking on Bowling Green right-hander Caleb Sampen (3.60) Come early and play catch with your dad on the field!
To live the Lug Life and purchase tickets to Sunday or throughout the 2019 season, visit lansinglugnuts.com or call (517) 485-4500.
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