SOUTH BEND, Indiana – South Bend’s Justin Williams collected a home run, triple, and single as the Silver Hawks defeated the Dayton Dragons 11-6 on Monday night. The game was the first of a six-game road trip for the Dragons.
Despite the loss, the Dragons maintained a one-game lead in the Midwest League East Division Second Half wildcard race with 14 games to play. Great Lakes also lost to remain one game behind the Dragons. Three other teams are within three games of the Dragons.
Dragons starting pitcher Amir Garrett (7-7) had a rough night and suffered the loss. He worked two-plus innings, allowing six runs on five hits and five walks with three strikeouts. Garrett had not allowed a run over his previous three starts covering 17 innings.
South Bend scored four runs in the first inning before the Dragons battled back to get the lead in the second. Dayton plated five runs in the second inning, collecting six hits in the inning including run-scoring doubles by Jose Ortiz, Tanner Rahier, and Jonathan Reynoso, and a tie-breaking RBI triple by Alex Blandino. Avain Rachal also had a run-scoring single in the inning as the Dragons jumped ahead 5-4.
But South Bend answered with two runs in the third to take the lead for good. Garrett left the game with the bases loaded and no one out after allowing two walks and a single. Joel Bender entered the game and struck out the first two batters he faced before hitting a batter to force in the tying run and then throwing a wild pitch to bring in the go-ahead run as South Bend jumped ahead 6-5. Bender allowed another run in the fourth to make it 7-5.
The Dragons scored in the fifth on back-to-back doubles by Robert Ramirez and Phillip Ervin to make it 7-6, and that score held until the bottom of the eighth. Bender left the game after five innings of long relief, allowing one run and striking out nine. Pedro Diaz struggled through the eighth inning, allowing four runs on four hits including a two-run home run by Williams as South Bend built an 11-6 lead to close out the scoring.
The Dragons finished with nine hits, eight of which came in the first five innings. They had six doubles and a triple over those first five innings. Ervin was 2 for 4 with two doubles and an RBI. Rahier was 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI.
The Dragons (27-29) meet the Silver Hawks (32-24) in the second game of a three-game series on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. Sal Romano (7-10, 4.13) will start for the Dragons against South Bend’s Anthony Banda (8-6, 3.30).