DAYTON, Ohio – Lake County’s George Valera hit a two-run home run and reached base six times to lead the Captains to a 9-2 victory over the Dayton Dragons on Saturday night. A crowd of 8,144 was in attendance at Day Air Ballpark. The six-game series will conclude on Sunday, when the Dragons will need a win to split the set.
Lake County starting pitcher Daniel Espino, the Cleveland Indians first round draft pick in 2019, allowed just one hit and struck out 10 Dragons batters over five scoreless innings. Espino left the game with an 8-0 lead.
Dayton starter Christian Roa (1-1) was charged with the loss. He worked three innings, allowing five runs on six hits with one walk and six strikeouts.
The Captains took a 2-0 lead before an out was recorded in the game when Valera belted a two-run homer in the top of the first, his 16th homer of the year. Lake County took a commanding 8-0 lead with three more runs in the second inning against Roa and three in the fourth inning against Dragons reliever John Ghyzel.
The Dragons did not pick up their first hit until Alex McGarry doubled with one out in the fifth inning. They scored two unearned runs in the sixth to cut the deficit to 8-2. Lake County closed out the scoring with a run in the eighth.
Dayton finished the night with four hits, including doubles by McGarry and Jonathan Willems.
Notes: Lake County has won three of the five games played so far in the series…Espino has faced the Dragons twice this season, working a combined nine innings and striking out 22 batters…Lake County stranded 15 base runners in the game…Dragons pitchers combined to notch 16 strikeouts but they walked nine and hit four batters.
The Race: The Dragons fell one game behind first place Lake County in the East Division standings. Great Lakes is tied with the Dragons for second place. Cedar Rapids remained three games ahead of the Dragons in the race for the final playoff slot.
Up Next: The Dragons (50-45) will host Lake County (51-44) in the last game of the series on Sunday at Day Air Ballpark at 2:05 p.m. JC Keys (3-1, 4.70) will start for Dayton against Lake County’s Mason Hickman (6-6, 4.97).
On the Air: Sunday’s game will be televised on Dayton’s CW (Channel 26; Spectrum Cable channels 13 and 1013).