Midland, Mich.- Brian Rey hit two home runs and Miguel Hernandez delivered a two-run double for the lead as the Dayton Dragons battled back from a three-run deficit to defeat the Great Lakes Loons 6-5 on Saturday night.
Rey hit the second pitch of the game for a home run to left field. He became the first Dragons player to open a game with a lead-off homer since Michael Siani homered at West Michigan on June 26, 2019. Rey added another solo home run in the seventh, his fourth homer in four games. No Central League club other than the Dragons began Saturday’s action with more than three home runs as a team.
The Dragons took a 6-4 lead to the bottom of the ninth inning and seemed to be poised to win when reliever Johnnie Schneider struck out the first two batters of the inning. But Schneider lost his ability to throw strikes, walking the next four batters as the Loons pulled to within a run at 6-5 with the bases loaded. Schneider started the next at-bat by getting ahead in the count on two straight swings and misses, then got the hitter, Deacon Liput to ground out to first base to end the game.
Great Lakes scored four runs in the second inning to take a 4-1 lead and held that lead until the Dragons put together a big inning in the sixth. After Quincy McAfee walked with one out, Jose Tello ripped a double to right-center field to drive in McAfee and make it 4-2. James Free followed with a double off the left field fence to score Tello and pull the Dragons to within one run. Jonathan Willems walked, and after Mariel Bautista flied to left for the second out, Hernandez ripped a two-run double to left to give the Dragons a 5-4 lead. Rey’s homer in the seventh made it 6-4 and proved to be an important insurance run.
Dragons relief pitcher Spencer Stockton entered the game with two outs in the second inning and was outstanding, giving the team a chance to come back. Stockton worked four and one-third scoreless innings, allowing just two hits with one walk and three strikeouts for the win. Dragons starting pitcher Ricky Salinas struggled to throw strikes in his first start of the year. Salinas walked five and hit one over one and two-thirds innings, allowing four runs. Jake Gilbert was the Dragons third pitcher and tossed two shutout innings without giving up a hit. Schneider earned the save by pitching the ninth and allowing one run as he walked four and struckout two.
The Dragons had eight hits. Rey was the only player with two. Tello, Free, and Hernandez each had a double.
The Dragons and Loons close out the six-game series on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. in Midland. Lyon Richardson, who tossed three scoreless innings in the season opener on Tuesday will start for the Dragons against Bobby Miller.
The Dragons will open their 21st home season on Tuesday, May 11 at 7:05 p.m. against the Lansing Lugnuts at Day Air Ballpark.