Dragons win, gain ground in Wildcard Race

DAYTON, Ohio -The Dayton Dragons jumped out to a 7-0 lead over the first three innings and withstood a Lansing comeback bid to hold on and defeat the Lugnuts 7-6 on Saturday night. A crowd of 9,031 saw the game at Fifth Third Field.

The win left the Dragons two games behind West Michigan in the first half East Division wildcard race. West Michigan lost at Fort Wayne in 10 innings, 7-5. The Dragons win at home followed a six-game road trip in which they went 0-6.

After being shutout in an 11-inning loss at West Michigan on Friday and scoring just three runs in the three-game series against the Whitecaps, the Dragons came out hitting on Saturday. They scored two runs in the first, four more in the second, and one in the third to build a 7-0 lead.

The runs came from a balanced attack that included hits from eight different players over the first three innings. Sebastian Elizalde’s two-run double in the first got the scoring started, and the Dragons got RBI singles in the second from Carlton Daal, Nick Benedetto, and Sammy Diaz. Benedetto drove in another run with a run-scoring single in the third.

Meanwhile, Dragons starting pitcher Nick Travieso did not allow a base runner until the fourth inning, and did not give up a run until Jason Leblebijian’s solo home run in the sixth that made it 7-1. The Lugnuts got to Travieso for four hits and three runs in the seventh to close the gap to 7-4. Nolan Becker replaced Travieso with one out in the inning and retired both batters he faced to work out of further trouble.

Lansing scored two more in the eighth to make it a 7-6 game, keyed by a high bouncer over the head of Dragons first baseman Daniel Pigott that went to the right-field corner for an RBI triple by Derrick Loveless. But Dayton closer Scott Brattvet worked a scoreless ninth inning, allowing only a two-out single by Ian Parmley before getting Leblebijian to ground to third on a fine play by Dayton infielder Sammy Diaz. Diaz put on a fielding clinic over the course of the game with numerous outstanding defensive plays at third.

The Dragons improved to 28-26 with the win while Lansing fell to 26-29.

The Dragons host Lansing on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Nick Routt (0-0, 6.35) will make his second start of the year for the Dragons against Lansing’s Alberto Tirado (1-1, 5.24).

Notes: The Dragons made several roster moves before Saturday’s game. First baseman Daniel Pigott and outfielder Jon Matthews were activated from the disabled list. Outfielder Jeff Gelalich was placed on the disabled list after fouling a ball hard off his foot on Friday. Infielder Humberto Valor was released.

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