Bowling Green, Ky. (WDTN) —Avain Rachal collected three hits including an eighth inning tie-breaking home run as the Dayton Dragons edged the Bowling Green Hot Rods 3-2 on Thursday night. The game was the opener to the second half season for both clubs.
The Dragons have won nine of their last 10 games and improved their full-season record to 40-31.
Bowling Green scored a single run in the second before the Dragons battled back to get the lead. The Dragons put together three infield singles in the third and took advantage of a Hot Rods error to tie the game. In the sixth, Brian O’Grady doubled with two outs on a fly ball lost in the twilight sky by the Bowling Green outfielders, and O’Grady scored when Paul Kronenfeld’s hard ground ball was misplayed by Hot Rods first baseman Casey Gillaspie for an error.
Bowling Green came back in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game when Nick Ciuffo singled to left field with two outs and scored from first on Hunter Lockwood’s double down the left field line to make it 2-2.
In the top of the eighth, Rachal came to the plate with two outs and the bases empty and lined a home run to right field to break the tie and give the Dragons a 3-2 lead. Brennan Bernardino came on to work the final two innings for his first save. The victory went to starter Seth Varner (7-4), who worked the first seven innings, allowing six hits and two runs with no walks and four strikeouts.
The Dragons finished with nine hits. Along with Rachal’s three hits, Luis Gonzalez was 2 for 4. O’Grady’s double extended his hitting streak to 13 straight games.
Neither team issued a walk in the game while the two clubs combined for 16 strikeouts. The game was played in just two hours, 13 minutes.
The Dragons meet the Hot Rods in the second game of the four-game series on Friday in Bowling Green at 8:05 p.m. (EDT). Wyatt Strahan (5-4, 3.28) will start for the Dragons against Bowling Green’s Greg Harris (3-5, 2.72).
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: Argenis Aldazoro was 1 for 4 in his first game with the Dragons. Aldazoro was a key hitter for the 2014 Pioneer League champion Billings ballclub and would have opened the season with the Dragons but missed the first half due to illness. He finished third in the Pioneer League in slugging percentage in 2014 and was the Reds Minor League Batter of the Month last August…Dragons catcher Garrett Boulware, infielder Shed Long, and pitcher Jake Ehret all missed the game while serving the first game of a Midwest League suspension related to a bench-clearing altercation with the South Bend Cubs in South Bend, Indiana on June 17. Four other Dragons players (Tejay Antone, Jose Ortiz, Brennan Bernardino, and Avain Rachal) will also serve suspensions. Each of the seven players was suspended for three games on a staggered basis.