GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – West Michigan’s Rey Rivera broke a 4-4 tie with a two-run home run in the eighth inning as the Whitecaps defeated the Dayton Dragons 6-4 on Saturday night. West Michigan has won four of six games in the seven-game series that will end on Sunday afternoon.
The Dragons fell behind 4-1 over the first six innings, committing a season-high four errors leading to three unearned runs, but they battled back to even the score in the seventh. The Dragons scored three times in the inning, ignited by a walk to Reyny Reyes and a base hit by Jacob Hurtubise that moved Reyes to third. Michael Siani followed with an infield single that drove in Reyes, and an error on the play moved Hurtubise to third and Siani to second. Francisco Urbaez grounded out to drive in Hurtubise to make it 4-3, and the Dragons tied the game when Siani stole third and scored when the throw by catcher Cooper Johnson sailed into left field.
In the bottom of the eighth, Rivera came to bat against Dayton reliever Sam Hellinger with a man at first and one out, and drilled the first pitch over the right field fence to give West Michigan a 6-4 lead.
The Dragons launched a comeback bid in the ninth when Siani walked and Urbaez singled to right. But Victor Ruiz lined out and James Free flied out to left-center. A wild pitch moved the tying run into scoring position, but with Siani at third and Urbaez at second, Juan Martinez popped out to short left field to end the game.
The Dragons collected eight hits. Reyny Reyes, a backup infielder getting a rare start, led the offense with two doubles and two walks. Siani had a double, single, two runs scored, an RBI, and a stolen base.
Starting pitcher Lyon Richardson was victimized by poor defense. He worked five and one-third innings, allowing four hits and four runs, only one of which was earned. Three of the four hits against Richardson came on plays that potentially could have been made by the Dragons defense, and three of the four errors came with Richardson in the game. Richardson walked one and struck out four. Hellinger (1-1) was charged with the loss, allowing two runs in one-third of an inning.
The Race: The Dragons allowed a chance to gain ground in the playoff chase to slip away. The top two teams in the East Division also lost, keeping the Dragons two games off the lead. Great Lakes lost to Fort Wayne, 2-0, and Lake County fell to Lansing, 5-2.
Up Next: The Dragons (43-40) close out the seven-game series at West Michigan (40-43) on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Eduardo Salazar (2-5, 4.00) will start for the Dragons against Garrett Hill (3-0, 2.03).