LANSING, Mich.- In a Fourth of July marathon that lasted four hours, 31 minutes, the Dayton Dragons scored four runs in the top of the 10th inning and held on to defeat the Lansing Lugnuts 12-8 on Sunday night.
With the win, the Dragons split the six-game series in Lansing, posted a winning record of 6-5 on their two-week road trip, and held onto first place in the East Division of the High-A Central League.
The game featured a series of comebacks by both teams. In seven consecutive half innings, the lead changed hands. Dayton trailed or was tied as they came to bat in the top of the seventh, eighth, ninth, and 10th innings before scoring in each of those innings to jump back in front or force a tie. Lansing responded by scoring in the bottom of the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings to regain the lead or re-tie the game. The Lugnuts did not score in the bottom of the 10th after Dayton broke an 8-8 tie with four runs in the top of the inning to close out the contest.
The Dragons trailed 2-1 before rallying in the seventh to briefly take the lead. James Free led off the inning with a 419’ home run to right-center field to tie the game. It was Free’s second homer of the year and second of the road trip. After Victor Ruiz reached on a throwing error, Alex McGarry and Jose Tello delivered back-to-back singles to load the bases, and Reniel Ozuna lined a hit to left to drive in Ruiz to give the Dragons a 3-2 lead. Lansing tied the game in the bottom of the inning.
Dayton regained the lead in the top of the eighth, scoring two runs on a Miguel Hernandez RBI single and an error. Lansing scored four in the bottom of the eighth to take a 7-5 lead.
Dayton again regained the lead with three runs in the top of the ninth, getting RBI hits from Francisco Urbaez, Free, and Ruiz to make it 8-7. Lansing scored one in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game, 8-8, and send it to extra innings.
Dayton scored four in the top of the 10th to go ahead 12-8. Michael Siani drew a bases loaded walk for the first run, and Urbaez drove in the second with an RBI single. Two more runs scored on an error. Pedro Garcia pitched a scored bottom of the 10th to earn his league-leading sixth win of the year.
The Dragons collected 17 hits. Ruiz had a four-hit night with two doubles. Free had three hits including a home run and drove in two. Jose Tello also had three hits. Urbaez drove in two runs.
Notes: The Dragons scored 11 runs over the final four innings after scoring just one run in the previous 16 innings. They collected 12 hits over the final four innings and sent 30 batters to the plate.
The Race: The first place Dragons (30-23) held onto a one-half game lead over Great Lakes in the High-A Central League East Division standings. Lake County dropped to one and one-half games back of the Dragons.
Up Next: The Dragons do not play on Monday. They will open a six-game series at Day Air Ballpark in Dayton on Tuesday against the West Michigan Whitecaps at 7:05 p.m. Jacques Pucheu (2-0, 4.61) will pitch for Dayton against Garrett Hill (1-0, 3.00). That series will be followed by another six-game home set on July 13 against Great Lakes.