The Dayton Dragons built a three-run lead and held off a West Michigan comeback effort as the Dragons edged the Whitecaps 4-3 on Wednesday night. The win was the third straight for the Dragons, giving them their longest winning streak of the season.
The game featured another night of greatly improved pitching for the Dragons. Despite ranking 16th in the Midwest League in team earned run average for the year, the Dragons have enjoyed a strong four weeks on the mound. They allowed just one earned run on Wednesday night and over their last 24 games since May 11, the Dragons rank fourth in the league in team ERA.
The Dragons enjoyed a big third inning to take an early lead. Miguel Hernandez opened the frame with a line drive single to center field, and Carlos Rivero sacrificed Hernandez to second. Randy Ventura followed with a single to center that advanced Hernandez to third, and Hernandez scored on the same play when the throw to the plate sailed to the backstop. After an infield single by Michael Siani, Miles Gordon lined a double to the right field corner that drove in both Ventura and Siani to make it 3-0.
West Michigan scored one run in the bottom of the third, but the Dragons again built their lead to three runs when they scored in the sixth with a two-out rally. With the bases empty, Bren Spillane singled to right field and went to second Morgan Lofstrom walked. Hernandez then doubled down the left field line to drive in Spillane and make it 4-1.
The Dragons committed two costly errors leading to two unearned runs in the bottom of the seventh, but reliever Matt Pidich pitched out of a jam to hold the lead. With runners at second and third and two outs, Pidich struck out Hector Martinez to end the inning and hold a 4-3 lead. Pidich pitched a perfect eighth inning and Connor Bennett tossed a perfect ninth for his sixth save.
Dragons starting pitcher Jared Solomon (1-3) earned the win in his first game back with the Dragons after two strong starts with Advanced-A Daytona. Solomon, the Dragons opening night starting pitcher, worked five innings, allowing just one run on five hits with one walk and four strikeouts.
The Dragons finished with five hits. Hernandez was 2 for 4 with a double, run scored, and run batted in. Gordon had the big two-run double in the third for what turned out to be the most important hit of the night.
The Dragons, who had committed just seven errors over their last 11 games, overcame one of their worst defensive nights of the year. They had a season-high five errors, but Dayton pitchers were able to minimize the damage as West Michigan went 0 for 7 with men in scoring position.
Notes: Prior to Wednesday’s game, the Dragons activated Solomon, who had been on the Daytona roster after making two strong starts for the Tortugas in the Florida State League. Carlos Machorro was transferred from Dayton to Daytona.
Up Next: The Dragons (20-39) close out the series in West Michigan against the Whitecaps (20-39) on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. Jhon De Jesus (1-5, 5.88) will start for the Dragons against Wilkel Hernandez (4-5, 4.43) of West Michigan. The Dragons open a series at home against the Fort Wayne TinCaps on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. at Fifth Third Field.