LANSING, Mich. – Lansing’s Yerdel Vargas doubled off the glove of diving center fielder Michael Siani to bring in the winning run from first base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Lugnuts edged the Dayton Dragons 5-4 on Sunday afternoon. The Dragons won four of six in the series and completed their 13-game road trip with a record of 7-6.
Dayton’s Jack Rogers, who joined the ballclub on Wednesday as a 2021 ninth round draft pick out of Sam Houston State, tied the game in the top of the ninth inning with a one-out, two-run home run to left field to force a bottom of the ninth.
The Lugnuts got a one-out single from Drew Swift to start their rally. After Dragons reliever John Ghyzel got a strikeout for the second out, Vargas sent a fly ball toward left-center field. Siani made a diving try but the ball deflected off his glove and rolled away as Swift scored from first to end the game.
Lansing took a quick lead with the run in the first inning before the Dragons tied the game in the third. Siani ripped a triple to the fence in right-center field with two outs, and Ivan Johnson flared a hit over shortstop to bring him in and make it 1-1.
Lansing regained the lead with two runs in the bottom of the third before the Dragons scored in the sixth to cut the deficit in half. Johnson and Matt McLain were both hit by pitches with one out, and one batter later, Quin Cotton lined a hit to right-center field to drive in Johnson from second to make it 3-2.
Lansing added another run in the seventh to again lead by two runs at 4-2, and there was no more scoring until the top of the ninth, when the Dragons came alive to tie the game. Juan Martinez walked to start the inning, and with one out, Rogers blasted an opposite field home run to left to make it 4-4. After the Rogers homer, Victor Ruiz singled, and with two outs, Eric Yang walked to move the potential winning run to second. But Siani popped out to third to end the threat and keep the score tied, setting up Lansing’s run-scoring rally to win.
Dayton starting pitcher Christian Roa worked two and two-thirds innings, allowing three runs on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
The Dayton relief corps had a strong day. Vin Timpanelli entered the game with runners at second and third in the third inning and stranded both runners. He struck out all four batters he faced in his outing. Ricky Karcher pitched two perfect innings, striking out four. Stevie Branche allowed one run in one and two-thirds innings, allowing two hits with a walk and two strikeouts. John Ghyzel retired the only batter he faced in the eighth before allowing the two-out run in the ninth to suffer the loss.
The Dragons collected six hits on the day. No player had more than one. The home run by Rogers and Siani’s triple were the only extra base hits.
Notes: Dayton scored 50 runs and hit 13 home runs in the six-game series. Both totals were season-highs for a series. Nearly every series in 2021 has been a six-game set.
The Race: The Dragons began the day in a tie with Cedar Rapids in the battle for the final High-A Central League playoff slot. They held a one-game lead in the East Division over Lake County and Great Lakes, who were tied for second place. The other games were still in progress when this story was posted.
Up Next: The Dragons (48-42) do not play on Monday. They return home to open a six-game series at Day Air Ballpark on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. against the Lake County Captains (47-42).