FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Fort Wayne’s Justin Lopez hit a home run and drove in three runs to lead the TinCaps to an 8-2 victory over the Dayton Dragons on Saturday night. The Dragons will need a win on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 to earn a split of the six-game series.
Dragons starting pitcher Bryce Bonnin made his High-A debut after being called up from Daytona, where he posted a 1.41 ERA in seven starts. Bonnin, the Reds third round draft pick in 2020 out of Texas Tech, pitched well over the first two innings, allowing just one base runner with three strikeouts. But Bonnin walked the first four batters in the third inning and then allowed a run-scoring double and was charged with the loss. He worked two and two-thirds innings, allowing just one hit but four runs with five walks and three strikeouts.
It was a costly game and series for the Dragons in terms of injuries. On Wednesday, Dayton pitchers Lyon Richardson and Braxton Roxby both left the game and were placed on the injured list. Saturday night, Dragons catcher Mat Nelson was struck by a pitch just above the catcher’s mitt on the wrist or hand area while playing defense and left the game immediately. Infielder Ivan Johnson turned his ankle as he stepped on third base and was replaced by a pinch runner, exiting the field in considerable pain. No further information was available on either player.
The Dragons took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Michael Siani singled, stole second, went to third on an error, and scored on a wild pitch. But Fort Wayne responded with four runs in the third and two in the fourth to take a 6-1 lead. The Dragons got back-to-back doubles from Eric Yang and Juan Martinez in the seventh before Lopez belted a two-run homer for Fort Wayne to close out the scoring.
Both teams finished with just six hits. Dragons pitchers combined to walk eight over the first six innings, including five who eventually scored.
The Race: Cedar Rapids led the Dragons by four games in the race for the final playoff slot when the day began. The Kernels trailed Beloit 6-1 in the ninth inning as this story was posted.
Up Next: The Dragons (52-49) close out the six-game series at Fort Wayne (49-52) on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. Carson Spiers (4-3, 4.04) will start for Dayton against Fort Wayne’s Carlos Guarate (1-5, 7.76).
The Dragons begin a six-game series at Day Air Ballpark in Dayton on Tuesday night against Lansing.