Dayton, OH – Jamodrick McGruder and Alex Blandino belted back-to-back home runs to break a 2-2 tie in the seventh inning as the Dayton Dragons defeated the Great Lakes Loons 4-2 on Sunday evening. The win lifted the Dragons back into the wildcard lead by one-half game with eight games to play.
McGruder came to the plate with one out and the bases empty in the seventh and drilled his fourth home run of the season, a blast to right field, to give the Dragons the lead. Blandino followed with a long home run to left field that easily cleared the fence and gave the Dragons back-to-back homers for the first time this season.
Great Lakes gave the Dragons a scare in the ninth. Dragons closer Alejandro Chacin retired the first two batters in the inning before yielding a double and consecutive walks to load the bases. As Chacin worked on the next hitter, Tyler Wampler , Dragons manager Jose Nieves was ejected from the game by home plate umpire Kirk Struble after several close pitches. Chacin ran the count to 2-2 on Wampler before getting him to fly out to center field to end the game. Chacin earned his 19th save.
Dragons starting pitcher Sal Romano (8-10) went the first seven innings, allowing five hits and two runs with one walk and three strikeouts to earn the win.
The Dragons took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Jon Matthews walked, went to second on a base hit by Jose Ortiz, and scored on a two-out single by Jonathan Reynoso. Great Lakes scored two runs in the top of the fifth to take a 2-1 lead, but the Dragons tied the game with a run in the bottom of the fifth on back-to-back doubles by Blandino and Robert Ramirez.
The game also featured one of the top defensive plays in recent years at Fifth Third Field. In the seventh inning, Dragons center fielder Nick Benedetto raced to his right and made a sensational diving catch of a line drive off the bat of Alex Santana to rob the hitter of an extra base hit.
The Dragons (29-33) host the Loons (28-33) again on Monday at 7:00 p.m. in the second game of the series at Fifth Third Field. Nick Travieso (12-5, 3.24) will start for the Dragons against Brandon Martinez (1-8, 4.91).