Grand Rapids, Mich.—Dayton’s Rece Hinds hit a two-run home run in the 11th inning and center fielder Allan Cerda made a game-saving diving catch that might rank among the finest plays in all Minor League Baseball this season as the Dragons defeated the West Michigan Whitecaps 3-0 on Friday night.  The Dragons have won three of four so far in the six-game series.

In addition to his amazing catch in the bottom of the ninth that saved the game, Cerda added two outfield assists including one in the bottom of the 10th inning that helped the Dragons escape a tough jam and stay alive for another inning.

The Dragons are in first place in the Midwest League East Division, five and one-half games ahead of second place Great Lakes with 24 games to play in the first half season.

Game Recap:  The game featured a classic pitcher’s duel between Dayton starter Connor Phillips and West Michigan’s Dylan Smith.  Both starters left the game without a run scoring.  Phillips became the first Dayton pitcher this season to go beyond six innings, working six and two-thirds while allowing three hits with four walks and six strikeouts.

The score was still 0-0 in the bottom of the ninth when West Michigan’s Corey Joyce drew a one-out walk and went to second on a single by Trei Cruz.  Colt Keith then lined a shot toward right-center.  Cerda sprinted to his left and launched into a fully-horizontal dive, catching the ball just before he hit the ground and holding on, preventing the hit that would have ended the game.  The Dragons escaped the jam and the contest went to extra innings.

In the bottom of the 10th, Cerda, who had thrown out a runner at the plate from center field in the third inning, came through with another big play.  With a runner at second and no one out, Josh Crouch flied out to medium-deep center field.  The runner at second tagged and attempted to advance to third, but Cerda threw him out for a double play.  It was the sixth double play turned by the Dragons defensively in the game.

In the top of the 11th, Cerda lined a single to center field to move Jose Torres from second to third with no one out, and Torres eventually scored on an error.  With two outs, Rece Hinds blasted a two-run home run to left field to make it 3-0.  It was Hinds’ sixth homer of the year.

Donovan Benoit pitched a scoreless bottom of the 11th, his third inning of relief, to lock down the Dragons win.

The Dragons finished with six hits.  Hinds had two and is batting .407 over his last 17 games.

Notes:  The win was the seventh shutout victory of the year for the Dragons and their second of the current series in West Michigan…The Dragons improved to 29-13 on the year.  They are 16 games over .500 for the second time this season.  They have been 17 games above .500 for only one day since the end of the 2011 season, on May 21, 2017, when their record was 30-13.

Up Next:  The Dragons will battle the Whitecaps in West Michigan on Saturday at 6:35 p.m.  Christian Roa (0-1, 7.36) will start for Dayton.  The series concludes Sunday night at 6:00.

The Dragons return home to host the South Bend Cubs on Tuesday, May 31 at 7:05 p.m. at Day Air Ballpark in the heart of the Water Street District.  For ticket information, go to daytondragons.com or call (937) 228-2287.   

On the Air:  All Dragons home and road games are broadcast on radio on FOX Sports 980 AM WONE.  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.