Dayton, Ohio (DAYTON) —Jimmy Pickens hit a home run and drove in four runs to lead the Dayton Dragons to a 9-7 victory over the Beloit Snappers on Monday night. The win gave the Dragons a sweep of the three-game series with the Snappers and improved their record to 34-30 in the first half.
The Dragons win lifted them to within three games out of first place and three games out of the wildcard slot with six games to play in the first half race. Bowling Green and Lansing are tied for first place. Great Lakes is in third place, one game behind the leaders. The top two teams qualify for the playoffs in September.
Pickens lined a two-run home run to right field in the second inning to give the Dragons an early 2-0 lead. Beloit answered with three runs in the top of the third to take a brief 3-2 lead.
But the Dragons exploded with seven runs in the bottom of the third inning to take a commanding 9-3 lead. Paul Kronenfeld’s run-scoring single tied the game at 3-3, and Brian O’Grady followed with a single to bring in another run and give the Dragons the lead. The third run of the inning scored on a wild pitch. Pickens added a two-run single and Ronald Bueno picked up a two-run double to make it 9-3. The Dragons collected seven hits in the inning to match a season high.
Beloit scored one run in the fourth and three more in the eighth to pull within two runs at 9-7, but Dragons reliever Scott Brattvet worked out of an eighth inning jam with the tying run on base, and Brian Hunter retired the side in order in the ninth to earn his sixth save.
Dragons starting pitcher Wyatt Strahan (5-4) earned the win. He worked the first six innings and allowed four runs on three hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
The Dragons collected 12 hits, including two each for Pickens, Bueno, Kronenfeld, O’Grady, and Luis Gonzalez.
The Dragons finished their 12-game inter-divisional stretch with the West Division with a record of 7-5. The East Division teams dominated the inter-divisional play, going a combined 56-34 vs. the West. Great Lakes went 10-1. Lake County was 9-2 and Bowling Green went 9-3. East teams will play 12 more games against the West in the second half.
The Dragons (34-30) travel to South Bend, Indiana to open a three-game series with the South Bend Cubs (27-34) on Tuesday night at 7:05. Junior Morillo (1-1, 5.40) will start for the Dragons against South Bend’s Zach Hedges (2-4, 4.64).
All Dragons games are broadcast on radio on Fox Sports 980 WONE and on the internet at wone.com. Games are also available on the Dayton Dragons mobile app.
Notes: Dragons starting pitcher Mark Armstrong is on track to return to action in about two weeks as he returns from an elbow sprain. Armstrong is scheduled to throw in the bullpen for the first time since the injury by the end of this week.