Bowling Green, Ky. (WDTN) —Bowling Green’s Ronaldo Hernandez delivered a game-winning hit to left field with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift the Hot Rods to a 5-4 victory over the Dayton Dragons on Thursday night. The game was the Midwest League season opener for both teams.
Bowling Green battled back from a 4-2 deficit through seven innings to win. They took advantage of two costly errors leading to three unearned runs over the final two innings, scoring all three runs with two outs.
The Dragons trailed 2-0 before scoring three runs after two men were out in the fifth inning. Jeter Downs walked with one out and went to third on a double off the right field fence by Andy Sugilio. After Miles Gordon flied out to short center field, Stuart Fairchild lined a double to left to bring in both Downs and Sugilio. Fairchild then scored on John Sansone’s broken-bat single to center to give the Dragons a 3-2 lead. The Dragons added another run in the seventh when Miles Gordon walked, stole second, and scored on back-to-back passed balls to make it 4-2.
The Hot Rods tied the game with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. With a runner at second, Moises Gomez reached on a mishandled ground ball by Dayton third baseman Leandro Santana, and Adrian Rondon followed with a two-run double to tie the game at 4-4.
In the bottom of the ninth, Vidal Brujan reached on a fielding error by Dayton shortstop Jeter Downs, advanced to second on a fly out, and scored from second with two outs when Hernandez lined one over the head of Dragons left fielder Stuart Fairchild to end the game.
The Dragons collected 11 hits. Sugilio was 3 for 5 with a double and a run scored. Fairchild was 2 for 4 with a double, walk, and two runs batted in. Santana had two hits and a walk.
Dragons starting pitcher Packy Naughton worked five innings, allowing two runs on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts. He left the game with a 3-2 lead. The loss went to Austin Orewiler, who worked an inning and gave up just one hit (the game-ending hit by Hernandez and an unearned run.
Up Next: The Dragons meet the Hot Rods in Bowling Green again on Friday at 7:35 p.m. (EDT) before the series moves to Dayton Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. Mac Sceroler, the Reds fifth round draft pick in 2017 out of Southeastern Louisiana University, will start for the Dragons on Friday against Bowling Green’s Austin Franklin. Opening night for the Dragons at Fifth Third Field is Saturday at 7:00 p.m.