Michael Siani hit a two-run home run and Julio Pinto pitched out of a tough jam in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Dayton Dragons held on to defeat the Cedar Rapids Kernels 4-3 on Friday night.
The win snapped the Dragons six-game losing streak and improved their record to 9-18. Cedar Rapids fell to 12-15.
Just as they did in Thursday’s extra inning loss at Peoria, the Dragons took a one-run lead to the bottom of the ninth inning. The Kernels put the first two men on base on a ground ball off the glove of Dragons second baseman Jonathan Willems followed by a walk. But Pinto got a strikeout and a fly out against the next two hitters to draw within an out of closing out the win. He then committed a balk to move the runners to second and third, putting the Kernels in position to win the game with a base hit. But Pinto struck out DaShawn Keirsey to end the game and earn the save.
The Dragons took an early lead, scoring one run in the second inning. Miguel Hernandez lined a two-out double off the glove of the third baseman and then scored from second on Juan Martinez’s single through the right side of the infield to make it 1-0. Cedar Rapids scored in the fourth to tie the game, 1-1.
In the top of the fifth, Siani blasted a home run to right field after Willems had doubled to make it 3-1. It was Siani’s first home run of the year. The Dragons took advantage of three errors by the Kernels in the sixth to score an unearned run and extend their lead to 4-1.
Cedar Rapids loaded the bases with one out in the seventh against Dragons reliever Eddie Demurias, who had already thrown two scoreless innings on the night. Demurias issued a bases-loaded walk to force in a run and make it 4-2. Matt Pidich replaced Demurias and got a ground out for the second out of the inning as a run scored to make it 4-3. Pidich notched a strikeout to end the threat and hold the lead, and then pitched a scoreless eighth. Pidich (1-2) was credited with the win.
Dragons starting pitcher Ricky Salinas fired four good innings before leaving on a pitch limit at 82 pitches. Salinas gave up one run on a solo homer while striking out eight, the most this season by any Dragons pitcher. He walked two and gave up three hits.
The Dragons finished with six hits. Hernandez was 2 for 4 with a double. The home run by Siani and the double by Willems were the other extra base hits.
Up Next: The Dragons (9-18) will meet Cedar Rapids (12-15) in the second game of the series on Saturday night at 7:35 (EDT). Jhon De Jesus (1-2, 4.50) will start for Dayton against Tyler Palm (1-2, 2.84). The next home game is Monday, May 6 when the Dragons host the Clinton Lumber Kings at 7:00 p.m. at Fifth Third Field in the start to a six-game home stand.
On the Air: All Dragons games are broadcast on radio on Fox Sports 980 WONE AM. 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. All Saturday and Sunday home games are televised on Dayton’s CW (channel 26; Spectrum cable channels 13 and 1013).