Dragons battle back to win on Sunday


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Dayton Dragons shook off a tough loss in a suspended game on Sunday afternoon to stage a late comeback in the second game of the day and defeat the West Michigan Whitecaps, 5-3. West Michigan erased a four-run deficit in the final inning of the suspended game and went on to defeat Dayton, 12-10.

The Dragons trailed 2-0 in the second game when Jacob Hurtubise drew a bases loaded walk to force in a run in the sixth inning to make it 2-1 and start the Dragons comeback. In the eighth, Eric Yang doubled with one out, went to third on a single by Mariel Bautista, and scored on an infield hit by Hurtubise to tie the game. After Francisco Urbaez walked to load the bases, Juan Martinez delivered a sacrifice fly to bring in Bautista and give the Dragons a 3-2 lead. West Michigan pushed across the tying run in the bottom of the eighth to make it 3-3.

In the ninth, Alex McGarry got the Dragons started with one out with a double to left-center field, his third hit of the game. Miguel Hernandez walked and Yang was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Bautista hit a slow grounder to shortstop and avoided a double play by beating the throw to first as McGarry scored to give the Dragons a 4-3 lead. Hurtubise followed with an infield hit to drive in Hernandez and make it 5-3. Pedro Garcia (4-1) pitched a scoreless ninth inning after allowing the tying run to score in the eighth to earn the win.

The Dragons collected 15 hits in the game and left a season-high 15 runners on base. McGarry led the way with three hits. Hurtubise, Martinez, Hernandez, Bautista, and James Free each had two.

The first game on Sunday was the resumption of the nightcap in Friday night’s doubleheader. The game was suspended at 12:52 a.m. Saturday morning in accordance with Minor League Baseball’s curfew guidelines with Dayton leading 7-4 after five innings. After rain postponed play on Saturday, the game was picked up on Sunday.

In the suspended game, Dayton scored five runs in the top of the first inning, keyed by a three-run home run by Free. West Michigan battled back and trailed 5-3 after three innings before the Dragons scored two runs in the fifth to extend their lead to 7-3. Victor Ruiz’s run-scoring double was the big hit in the inning. West Michigan picked up one run in the bottom of the fifth to make it 7-4.

When the game resumed on Sunday, Dayton added another run in the top of the seventh and took an 8-4 lead to the final half inning. But West Michigan scored four runs against Dragons reliever Francis Peguero to send the game to extra innings. Dayton responded with two in the top of the eighth, getting a key two-out single by Jose Tello, to go back ahead 10-8. Braxton Roxby allowed back-to-back hits and a sacrifice fly to start the bottom of the inning and was replaced by Jake Gilbert with the score tied 10-10 and a runner on base with one out. Gilbert surrendered a walk-off home run to Eric De La Rosa to account for the final score of 12-10. De La Rosa’s game-ending home run allowed him to hit for the cycle in the game (single, double, triple, home run).

The loss marked the first time all season that the Dragons lost a game that they led going to the final two innings, and the first time in 2021 that Dayton lost a game after leading by more than two runs at any point of the game.

The Race: The first place Dragons (27-20) hold a two and one-half game lead over both Lake County and Great Lakes in the East Division standings. Both second place teams are 25-23. Great Lakes swept a doubleheader from Lake County on Sunday to create a tie for second.

Up Next: The Dragons do not play on Monday. They will open a six-game series at Lansing against the Lugnuts (22-25) on Tuesday at 2:05 p.m. at West Michigan. Noah Davis (2-4, 2.91) will pitch for Dayton against David Leal (0-1, 6.00). Davis has not allowed a run over his last two starts covering 12 innings.

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