Dragons lead early but lose 7-3

DAYTON, Ohio – The Lansing Lugnuts battled back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Dayton Dragons 7-3 on Sunday afternoon at Fifth Third Field.   A crowd of 8,587 saw the Lugnuts even the series at one win apiece.

With the loss, the Dragons fell to 28-27. They likely will fall to three games behind the wildcard-leading West Michigan Whitecaps, who led Fort Wayne 18-1 in the seventh inning in a later game. There are 13 games to play in the first half race.

The Lugnuts scored two runs in the sixth and one in the eighth to tie the score at 3-3, then plated four runs in the top of the ninth to close out the scoring.

The Dragons took the lead in the second inning when Sebastian Elizalde doubled down the left field line and scored on Phillip Ervin’s triple to right-center. Ervin scored on Jon Matthews’ infield hit to make it 2-0. The Dragons added another run in the fourth when Matthews reached on another infield single to start the inning and eventually scored on a two-out hit to center field by Carlton Daal to make it 3-0.

Dragons starting pitcher Nick Routt was exceptional and did not allow a hit until the sixth inning, when Lansing scored twice.   Chaz Frank singled to left to start the inning for Lansing’s first hit of the day. Frank stole second, and with one out, Derrick Loveless blooped a single to left to move Frank to third. Routt struck out Dickie Joe Thon for the second out. The next batter, Dawel Lugo, hit a fly ball to right that was mis-judged by Dayton’s Sebastian Elizalde and got over his head for a double to bring in both runners. Joel Bender replaced Routt to get the final out of the inning. Routt’s final line did not indicate his effectiveness. It included five and two-thirds innings of work, three hits and two runs with one walk and three strikeouts.

Alejandro Chacin replaced Bender and worked a scoreless seventh, but allowed the tying run in the eighth when Chaz Frank drew a lead-off walk and scored all the way from first base on a hit-and-run single by Derrick Loveless to tie the game at 3-3. Mitch Nay’s RBI single against Chacin (3-1) in the ninth broke the tie, and Lansing went on to add three more runs in the inning to close out the scoring.   Chacin was charged with the loss, allowing four runs on five hits in two and one-third innings with one walk and three strikeouts.

The Dragons finished with 12 hits but stranded eight runners including six in scoring position. Ervin and Matthews each had three hits. Daal had two.

The Dragons host Lansing on Monday at 7:00 p.m. in the rubber match of the three-game series. Sal Romano (3-4, 3.30) will start for Dayton against Lansing’s Matt Dermody (3-1, 4.31).

Notes: The Dragons received outfielder Gabriel Rosa from extended spring training before the game and outfielder Nick Benedetto was assigned to the Billings roster.

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