LaValley, Ortiz lead Dragons to 9-3 Win

Lansing, Mich. – Gavin LaValley and Jose Ortiz keyed a 12-hit Dayton attack as the Dragons defeated the Lansing Lugnuts 9-3 on Saturday evening. The Dragons improved to 6-4 with the win and moved to within a game of the first place Lugnuts.

The Dragons established season highs for runs in a game, hits in a game, runs and hits in an inning (five runs on six hits in the fourth) and largest margin of victory. The Dragons have won five of their last six games.

The Dragons had to come from behind after Lansing scored two runs on four hits in the second inning to take a 2-0 lead. But Dayton answered with its biggest inning of the season in the top of the fourth to jump ahead 5-2. LaValley delivered a run-scoring single with one out and Jimmy Pickens followed with a double down the left field line to drive in the tying run. One batter later, Ortiz doubled to left field to drive in LaValley and Pickens to make it 4-2. Ortiz scored on a base hit by Ty Washington to give the Dragons a 5-2 lead.

Lansing got closer in the bottom of the fourth but Dragons starting pitcher Seth Varner worked out of jam. Danny Jansen reached on an error to start the inning and scored from first on D.J. Davis’ triple to make it 5-3. But with Davis at third and no one out, Varner notched back-to-back strikeouts and then got an inning-ending groundout to keep the Dragons up by two runs.

Dayton added two more runs in the fifth inning when LaValley singled to drive in Brian O’Grady and Avain Rachal to make it 7-3. The Dragons closed out the scoring with two more in the top of the ninth, taking advantage of an error and a passed ball.

Varner (2-0) earned the win, going six innings and allowing six hits and three runs (two earned) with no walks and six strikeouts. Jake Ehret worked a scoreless seventh inning, working out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam. Jake Paulson tossed the final two innings, allowing one hit and no runs with a strikeout.

Offensively, LaValley was 2 for 4 with three runs batted in. Ortiz went 2 for 4 with a pair of RBI. Luis Gonzalez and Aristides Aquino also had two hits for the Dragons. Ortiz and Pickens each drove in two runs.

The Dragons (6-4) battle the Lugnuts (7-3) in the second game of the three-game series on Sunday at 2:05 p.m. Mark Armstrong (0-0, 2.57) will start for Dayton against Lansing’s Sean Reid-Foley (0-0, 0.00). The series will conclude on Monday at 12:05 p.m. The set in Lansing will be followed by a three-game series in Bowling Green, Kentucky against the Bowling Green Hot Rods. The next home game is Friday, April 24 against the West Michigan Whitecaps.

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