LANSING, Michigan – The Lansing Lugnuts took advantage of three bases-loaded walks in a six-run sixth inning on the way to an 8-3 victory over the Dayton Dragons on Saturday night. Despite the loss, the Dragons held onto first place in a close race in the Midwest League Eastern Division. With 28 games to play in the “first half” season, the Dragons lead second place South Bend by one-half game and third place West Michigan by one game.
The Lugnuts led the Dragons 2-1 heading to the bottom of the sixth. Lansing loaded the bases with two singles sandwiched around a base on balls before Dragons reliever Dan Langfield stuck out Chaz Frank for the first out of the inning. Langfield then walked Jorge Saez to force in a run and make it 3-1. Joel Bender replaced Langfield and walked both hitters he faced to force in two more runs. Alejandro Chacin came in to replace Bender and got a strikeout for the second out of the inning, but then surrendered a three-run double to L.B. Dantzler to make it 8-1.
Lansing jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning when Justin Atkinson drilled a home run with a man on base. It was Atkinson’s first homer of the year. The Dragons scored on a wild pitch in the top of the sixth to pull within one.
After Lansing’s big sixth inning, Dayton’s Joe Hudson hit his first home run of the season in the seventh and Tanner Rahier drove in a run in the eighth with a two-out RBI single to close out the scoring.
Dragons starting pitcher Daniel Wright (2-2) suffered the loss. He worked five innings, allowing five hits and two runs (both on the home run by Atkinson) with one walk and four strikeouts.
The Dragons finished with seven hits. Jeff Gelalich was 3 for 5 with two runs scored. Hudson’s homer was the only extra base hit.
The Dragons fell to 24-16 with the loss. They have won eight of their last 12 games. Lansing improved to 20-21 as they snapped a three-game losing streak.
The Dragons meet the Lugnuts on Sunday at 2:05 p.m. in Lansing in the wrap-up to the series. Sal Romano (3-2, 3.30) will start for Dayton against Lansing’s Matt Dermody (2-0, 2.04).
The next Dragons home game at Fifth Third Field is Monday, May 19 against the Great Lakes Loons at 7:00 p.m.