CLINTON, Iowa – Hendrik Clementina hit two home runs and Dayton starting pitcher Adrian Rodriguez tossed six scoreless innings as the Dragons held off a furious Clinton comeback effort to defeat the Lumber Kings 8-7 on Friday night. The win was the Dragons fifth straight and improved their record on their current road trip to 4-0.
Rodriguez, in his first game since July 29, 2016, returned to action after battling back from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery. He matched his career high for longest start, set in 2015, and allowed just four hits and one walk over his six innings with six strikeouts to earn the win.
The Dragons built an early 7-0 lead, scoring three in runs in the third inning and four in the fourth. In the third, Narciso Crook singled in Jose Garcia with the first run of the game before Michael Beltre delivered a two-run triple to make it 3-0. In the fourth, Clementina hit a two-run home run to make it 5-0, and Crook circled the bases for a two-run inside-the-park home run to give the Dragons a 7-0 lead. Crook blasted a ball off the center field fence and as the ball bounced back toward the infield, he sprinted around to beat the tag at the plate on a close play. It was just the sixth inside-the-park home run over the last 10 years for the Dragons.
The Dragons held a 7-0 lead when Clinton exploded for six runs in the bottom of the seventh, keyed by a two-out, three-run home run by Ariel Sandoval to make it 7-6. Clementina delivered his second homer of the game in the top of the eighth, his fifth home run of the year, to give the Dragons a big insurance run at 8-6. Clinton scored one run in the eighth to make it 8-7.
Hard-throwing Dragons reliever John Ghyzel entered the game to pitch the bottom of the ninth and worked a perfect inning, striking out the last two batters to earn his fifth save.
The Dragons collected 12 hits and they have scored 33 runs in the four games on the trip. Clementina, Crook, Beltre, and Jeter Downs each had two hits.
In the Standings: The Dragons improved their record to 14-11. They began the night in fourth place in the Midwest League East Division, three and one-half games behind first place Lansing.
The Dragons continue their series against the Lumber Kings on Saturday night in Clinton at 7:30 p.m. (EDT). Packy Naughton (2-1, 4.28 ) will start for the Dragons against Clinton’s Ryne Inman (1-1, 3.78).