DAYTON, Ohio – Bren Spillane hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning and Jake Gilbert pitched out of a bases loaded, no-out jam in the top of the ninth as the Dayton Dragons came from behind and held on for a 3-2 victory over the Lansing Lugnuts at Day Air Ballpark on Saturday night.
The Dragons trailed 2-0 and had collected only one hit before Brian Rey blasted a solo home run in the sixth to pull the club to within a run. The homer was Rey’s league-leading sixth of the season in just his ninth game.
In the bottom of the eighth, Dayton’s Mariel Bautista drilled a triple off the center field fence, and Spillane followed with a titanic home run to left-center field that was estimated at 455 feet. Spillane’s homer, his second of the year, gave the Dragons a 3-2 lead going to the ninth inning.
Gilbert, who had entered the game by pitching a scoreless eighth inning, went back out for the ninth and allowed three consecutive singles to start the inning as Lansing loaded the bases. Gilbert got a ground ball to third base that Quincy McAfee fielded and threw home to get the lead runner for the first out. Gilbert then recorded a big strikeout for the second out of the inning, and got Lansing’s cleanup hitter, Jordan Diaz, to fly out to Rey in center field to end the game.
The win was the Dragons third straight and improved their record to 8-3 on the year. They are in first place in the Central League’s East Division, one game ahead of Lake County, who lost to Fort Wayne on Saturday night.
Rey entered the game with a .406 batting average and managed to raise it to .417 by going 2 for 4 with a home run and triple. He has had at least one hit in all nine games he has played in this season. Rey leads the league in all three triple crown categories (batting average, home runs, and runs batted in).
Gilbert (1-0) was credited with the win, tossing two scoreless innings of relief. Starter Lyon Richardson worked five and one-third innings, allowing four hits and two runs with two walks and five strikeouts. Braxton Roxby allowed no runs in one and two-thirds innings with one walk and two strikeouts.
The Dragons will host Lansing in the last game of the six-game series on Sunday at 2:05 p.m. at Day Air Ballpark. Eduardo Salazar (1-0, 2.70) will start for the Dragons against Lansing’s Stevie Emanuels (0-0, 2.08). The game will be televised on Dayton’s CW (Channel 26; Spectrum Cable Channel 13 or 1013).
The Dragons open a six-game series at South Bend on Tuesday, May 18 before returning to Day Air Ballpark on May 25 to host Quad Cities.
Notes: The Dragons had not collected a triple all season before the eighth inning, when Bautista led off the inning with a three-base hit and Rey added another three batters later…Miguel Hernandez had the Dragons first hit of the night in the fifth inning to extend his hitting streak to seven straight games…The Dragons are five games above the .500 mark for the first time this season.