DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Dayton starting pitcher JC Keys fired five shutout innings and James Free had two doubles for the second straight night as the Dragons defeated the Lake County Captains 4-1 on Thursday night. A crowd of 6,080 was in attendance at Day Air Ballpark as the Dragons won their second straight game.
Keys (3-0), who has been a reliever for the Dragons and was pressed into a starting assignment after Wednesday’s trade of Noah Davis, allowed just two hits while walking three and striking out four to earn the win. He induced two double play balls and did not allow a runner past second base.
The Dragons took the lead with a single run in the second inning. Victor Ruiz reached on an error, went to third on a double by Free, and scored on Miguel Hernandez’s ground out. Then in the third, the Dragons added another run when they loaded the bases with no one out on three consecutive singles by Reniel Ozuna, Jacob Hurtubise, and Francisco Urbaez, and Ozuna scored when Garrett Wolforth grounded into a double play to make it 2-0.
The Dragons added two more runs in the fourth. Free delivered a ground rule double to start the inning, and scored on a complicated, unusual play. Hernandez singled to center field and took second on the throw home as Free advanced to third. When Hernandez headed to second, the Lake County catcher fired wildly into center field. Lake County’s Quentin Holmes moved in to back up the play, but he bobbled the wild throw, allowing Free to score. Hernandez advanced to third on a single by Juan Martinez, and scored on Quin Cotton’s sacrifice fly to make it 4-0. The Captains scored their only run in the eighth.
Dragons reliever Ricky Karcher earned his fourth save by pitching a perfect ninth inning, striking out all three batters he faced.
The Dragons finished the night with eight hits. Free and Ozuna each had two. Urbaez was 1 for 3 to extend his on-base streak to 35 straight games.
Notes: Dragons pitchers have allowed three runs or less in six of their last 11 games and four or less in eight of the last 11…The Dragons are 15-2 when scoring the first of the game at home in 2021.
The Race: The Dragons moved back into first place, one-half game ahead of Great Lakes in the East Division of the High-A Central League. Great Lakes lost to West Michigan on Thursday, 8-2.
Up Next: The Dragons (41-33) host Lake County (39-36) on Friday at 7:05 p.m. at Day Air Ballpark in the fourth game of a six-game home series. Jacques Pucheu (3-1. 4.20) will pitch for Dayton against Lake County’s Daniel Espino (0-2, 6.00).
On the Air: Dragons games on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday will be televised on Dayton’s CW (Channel 26; Spectrum Cable channels 13 and 1013). All Dragons games are broadcast on radio on 980 WONE AM Fox Sports. Games can be heard on smart phones, iPads, and other mobile devices via the free Dragons Mobile App, or on a computer at wone.com. Games are also available on HD Radio on 104.7 WTUI HD 2.