GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WDTN) - West Michigan starting pitcher Jon Maciel struck out 10 batters over seven shutout innings as the Whitecaps defeated the Dayton Dragons 5-0 on Thursday night. The game was the opener to a three-game series.
The Dragons began the day with a one-game lead over Great Lakes and a two-game advantage over Bowling Green and Fort Wayne in the wildcard race. Fort Wayne lost on Thursday to remain two games back of the Dragons. At the time of this posting, Great Lakes led Bowling Green 1-0 in the eighth inning. Great Lakes would move into a tie with the Dragons if they hold on to win.
Maciel (6-6) did not allow a runner past first base, allowing just one hit and one walk to earn the win. The only hit against Maciel was a first inning single by Dayton’s Alex Blandino.
West Michigan broke a scoreless tie in the fifth inning on an unusual play. With the bases loaded and one out, Wynton Bernard popped out foul to Dayton first baseman Robert Ramirez, but West Michigan’s Domingo Leyba tagged at third scored on the play as Dayton catcher Chad Tromp could not cleanly handle the throw to the plate by Ramirez to apply the tag on Leyba.
In the sixth, West Michigan’s Ross Kivett delivered a two-run single to make it 3-0, and Javier Betancourt drilled a two-run home run in the seventh to make it 5-0 and close out the scoring.
The Dragons had only one legitimate chance to score. In the eighth inning, Ronald Bueno and Nick Benedetto each had two-out singles, and Jamodrick McGruder walked to load the bases. But Blandino struck out swinging to end the threat.
Dragons starting pitcher Jackson Stephens (2-5) suffered the loss. He pitched shutout baseball over the first four innings, allowing just one hit, before giving up the run in the fifth. He left the game with two men on base in the sixth and was eventually charged with both runs. For the night, Stephens allowed three hits and three runs with two walks and three strikeouts in five innings.
The Dragons (28-31) battle the Whitecaps (37-22) again on Friday night at 7:10 p.m. in game two of game of the three-game series. Reds 2014 #1 draft pick Nick Howard (1-1, 5.30) will start for the Dragons against West Michigan’s Kevin Ziomek (10-6, 2.27).
The next home game is Sunday, August 24 vs. Great Lakes at Fifth Third Field. The game will have a special start time of 4:00 p.m.
All Dragons games can be heard on WONE Radio (980 AM) and via the internet at wone.com and through the Dragons Mobile App.