GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Dayton Dragons exploded for 10 runs in the fifth inning and cruised to a 14-1 victory over the West Michigan Whitecaps on Saturday night. The Dragons established season highs for runs in a game, runs in an inning, hits in a game (15), hits in an inning (7), and margin of victory.
All nine players in the Dragons lineup had at least one hit in the game. Eight of the first nine batters to go to the plate in the fifth inning reached base and scored.
Avain Rachal led the Dragons attack, going 3 for 5 with four runs batted in and two runs scored. He had a two-run triple in the fifth. Luis Gonzalez and Ronald Bueno both finished with three hits on the night.
The 10-run fifth inning was one short of the Dragons all-time record for runs in a single inning. Four times in team history, the Dragons scored 11 runs in an inning, most recently in 2007.
Brian O’Grady’s RBI single in the fifth extended his hitting streak to 16 straight games, tied for fourth longest in Dragons history. The club record is 20, set by Carlos Mendez in 2009. Cody Strait hit in 19 straight in 2005 and Ryan Wright had a 17-game hitting streak in 2012. O’Grady possesses the longest current hitting streak in the Midwest League.
The Dragons trailed 1-0 after three innings but scored three in fourth to take the lead. O’Grady walked to start the inning and Rachal was hit by a pitch. Jose Ortiz lined a shot off the pitcher’s lower leg but was thrown out at first as both runners advanced. Narciso Crook singled to right to drive in O’Grady to tie the game. With two outs, Jonathan Reynoso delivered a two-run single to right to give the Dragons a 3-1 lead.
In the fifth, the first four hitters in the inning each delivered base hits, as Bueno, Gonzalez, O’Grady, and Rachal started the frame with singles. O’Grady and Rachal picked up RBIs with their base hits. Ortiz followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 6-1. After a wild pitch brought in another run and back-to-back walks loaded the bases, Nick Benedetto drilled a two-run double to the right field fence to make it 9-1. Gonzalez added a two-run single, and Rachal’s two-run triple made it 13-1. The Dragons closed out the scoring in the seventh on Rachal’s run-scoring single.
Dragons starting pitcher Tyler Mahle (4-3) worked six innings and allowed five hits and one run with one walk and three strikeouts to earn the win. Mahle has allowed just two runs over his last three starts covering 21 innings.
The Dragons improved to 23-20 with the win. They are in third place and remained two games out of first.
The Dragons battle the Whitecaps in the third game of the series on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Wyatt Strahan (4-2, 2.27) will start for Dayton against West Michigan’s Jeff Thompson (1-4, 5.29).
The next home game for the Dragons is Tuesday, May 26 when they host the South Bend Cubs at 7:00 p.m. at Fifth Third Field. The game will mark the start of a seven-game homestand for the Dragons.
Notes: The Dragons 10-run fifth inning had an ironic connection to the biggest first inning in Major League Baseball history. In 1989, the Reds scored 14 runs in the first inning against the Houston Astros, a legendary achievement in franchise history. Two players who had hits for the Reds in that inning were in the Dragons dugout on Saturday night. Dragons pitching coach Tom Browning was the Reds starting pitcher in that game and Ken Griffey Sr., now a Minor League instructor with the Reds who is currently with the Dragons, was the Reds left fielder. The Reds sent 18 batters to the plate before the second out was recorded.