The Dayton Dragons scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning to break a 4-4 tie and then held on to defeat the West Michigan Whitecaps 7-4 on Tuesday night. The game was the opener to a three-game series.
The Dragons winning rally started when Leandro Santana singled and went from first to third on a hit by J.D. Williams. Mark Kolozsvary then hit a tapper a few feet up the third base line. West Michigan catcher Chris Proctor raced out to pick up the ball and tried to tag Santana coming in from third, but Santana lunged around him and reached the plate to score and give the Dragons a 5-4 lead. Pinch hitter Jonathan India followed with a single off the glove of the second baseman that brought in Williams to make it 6-4 as Kolozsvary went to third. Reshard Munroe then grounded back to the pitcher, who threw to second to try to start an inning-ending double play, but the return throw to first was wide of the bag as Kolozsvary scored to make it 7-4.
West Michigan loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth against Dragons reliever Aneurys Zabala, taking advantage of an error on Santana, a dropped third strike, and a walk, but Zabala struck out Dylan Rosa to end the game.
West Michigan scored two runs in the first inning before the Dragons tied the game in the second. The Dayton rally started with back-to-back singles by Hendrik Clementina and Andy Sugilio. Two batters later, a passed ball brought in a runner from third, and Kolozsvary followed with a run-scoring single to right to tie the score.
The Dragons took the lead in the top of the sixth inning. Alejo Lopez and Jeter Downs both singled with one out, and Sugilio delivered a two-out, two-run triple to make it 4-2. But West Michigan got both runs back in the bottom of the same inning on a two-out triple by Proctor to tie the game at 4-4.
Dayton starting pitcher Jared Solomon worked five and two-thirds innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on 10 hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Reliever Wendolyn Bautista (5-6) earned the win, working two and one-third scoreless innings. Zabala pitched the ninth for his third save.
The Dragons collected 10 hits. Sugilio was 2 for 4 with a triple, two runs batted in, and two runs scored.
In the Standings: The Dragons improved to 24-34 in the second half with the win. They are four games behind Great Lakes in the Midwest League’s East Division Second Half wildcard race. There are 12 games to play including seven home games for the Dragons.