Elizalde, McGruder lead Dragons to win

Dayton, Ohio – Sebastian Elizalde hit a home run and drove in two runs while Jamodrick McGruder added three hits and two RBI as the Dayton Dragons defeated the Great Lakes Loons 7-3 in the opener to a three-game series on Monday night at Fifth Third Field. With the win, the Dragons improved their record to 25-17. They remained in second place, one-half game behind South Bend in the East Division, but gained a full game on third place West Michigan, which fell to one and one-half games out of first.

For the second straight game, the Dragons collected 14 hits. The attack also included five extra base hits.

The Dragons took a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Elizalde connected on a home run to left-center field with Sammy Diaz on base.   The umpire’s call that the ball hit above the wall and bounced back on the field was disputed by Great Lakes manager Bill Haselman, but replays showed that the call was correct. The ball cleared the wall by about a foot, hit off the fiberglass retaining fence above the padded wall, and bounced back on the field.

Great Lakes scored a single run in the second to pull to within one at 2-1. Spencer Navin’s RBI double with two outs brought in the run.

The Dragons responded with a big inning in the fourth, scoring four times against Great Lakes starting pitcher Luis De Paula.   Tanner Rahier walked to start the inning and Carlton Daal reached on an infield single with one out. After Nick Benedetto struck out, McGruder lined a single to left field to drive in Rahier and make it 3-1. Sammy Diaz then drilled a triple to center field to bring in Daal and McGruder, and Diaz scored on a base hit to center field by Phillip Ervin to make it 6-1.

Great Lakes came back with two runs in the fifth, but the Dragons bullpen shut them out the rest of the night. The Dragons scored the final run of the game in the eighth when McGruder tripled to drive in Daal from third with one out.

Dragons starting pitcher Ismael Guillon was activated from the disabled list for the start after missing a turn in the rotation because of a blister on the thumb of his pitching hand. Guillon lasted four innings, allowing two hits and one run with three walks and two strikeouts. He was not involved in the decision.

Ryan Kemp (1-1) replaced Guillon and worked two and two-thirds innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits with no walks and two strikeouts. He was credited with the win. Pedro Diaz entered the game with two outs and the bases empty in the seventh and got the final out in that inning before working a scoreless eighth. Scott Brattvet worked the ninth inning, allowing two hits but no runs.

Elizalde was 3 for 4 with the home run. McGruder also had three hits and two RBI, collecting a single, double, and triple. Diaz had a single and triple and drove in two. Rahier and Daal also had two hits.

The Dragons host the Loons again on Tuesday at Fifth Third Field at 7:00 p.m. Amir Garrett (0-3, 5.40) will start for the Dragons while Great Lakes will counter with RH Scott Barlow (1-0, 2.95).

Notes:  Rahier extended his hitting streak to eight games.

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