Grand Rapids, Mich. (WDTN)—The West Michigan Whitecaps broke open a 1-1 game with four runs in the seventh inning and three more in the eighth as they defeated the Dayton Dragons 8-1 on Wednesday night in the series opener.
The Dragons fell out of the wildcard lead for the first time since April 23. They now trail West Michigan by one game with 17 games to play in the “first half” season.
The Whitecaps collected five hits, all singles, in the seventh to take the lead. Wynton Bernard’s bouncer through the middle brought in the go-ahead run with no one out against Dragons starting pitcher Sal Romano, and a two-run single by Francisco Contreras with one out against reliever Alejandro Chacin made it 4-1. Austin Schotts followed with an RBI single to make it 5-1.
The Whitecaps added three more in the eighth, all against Dragons reliever Tony Amezcua, keyed by a two-run triple by Willy Adames.
Romano (3-4) pitched well but was charged with the loss. He did not allow a run over the first five innings before surrendering one in the sixth. He worked into the seventh inning for the first time this season but gave up three consecutive singles to start the inning and was replaced by Chacin. His final line included six-plus innings, six hits, four runs, with one walk and five strikeouts.
The Dragons took a 1-0 lead in the fifth on Jeff Gelalich’s two-out, bases-loaded single to right that brought in Joe Hudson from third. Sammy Diaz would have easily scored from second on the play, but a base running mistake by Jamodrick McGruder ended the inning. McGruder, who was at first base when the play began, rounded second on the base hit. The throw came in to second base and before he could dive back to the bag, he was tagged out for the third out of the inning just before Diaz touched home plate.
The Dragons finished the night with seven hits. Gelalich, Diaz, and Sebastian Elizalde each had two.
The Dragons fell to 27-24 with the loss while West Michigan improved to 29-24. The Dragons have lost four straight and they are 3-9 over their last 12 games.
The Dragons continue the series at West Michigan on Thursday at 6:35 p.m. Ismael Guillon (3-0, 2.91) will start for the Dragons against West Michigan’s Jonathon Crawford (2-1, 2.16). The next Dragons home game is Saturday, May 31 vs. Lansing at 7:00 p.m.