MIDLAND, Mich. – Jimmy Pickens delivered a game-tying two-run double in the eighth inning and Jon Matthews followed with a tie-breaking single as the Dayton Dragons defeated the Great Lakes Loons 3-2 on Saturday night. The two clubs have split the first two games of the three-game series.
The game marked the first time this season that the Dragons have trailed entering the final two innings of a road game and came from behind to win the game. They trailed the Loons 2-0 after seven innings.
The Dragons rally began in the top of the eighth when Garrett Boulware reached on an infield single. Luis Gonzalez followed with a single to right-center field, moving Boulware to third, and Gonzalez advanced to second on the throw. Pickens followed with a hard grounder just inside the third base bag that rolled down the left field line to drive in both Boulware and Gonzalez as Pickens went to second with a double. One batter later, Matthews lined a single to right-center to drive in Pickens and give the Dragons a 3-2 lead.
Dragons reliever Joe Mantoni struck out three batters in a scoreless bottom of the eighth, and Conor Krauss worked the ninth for his seventh save. Krauss retired the first two batters in the inning before issuing a walk and then retiring Loons’ power threat Justin Chigbogu on a ground out to first base to end the game.
Dragons starting pitcher Jake Paulson (6-5) provided a strong performance and was credited with the win. He worked seven innings, allowing five hits and two runs with one walk and eight strikeouts.
The Dragons finished with seven hits, five of which came in the eighth inning. Matthew led the way with two singles and a walk in just his second game with the Dragons in 2015. Shed Long went 1 for 4 to extend his hitting streak to 11 straight games.
The Dragons are 2-3 on their nine-game road trip that will continue through Wednesday.
The Dragons (24-30 in the second half; 63-61 overall) battle the Loons (23-31, 61-61) in the series finale on Sunday afternoon at 2:05. Junior Morillo (3-8, 7.17) will start for Dayton against Great Lakes’ Michael Boyle (0-1, 7.71). The next home game for the Dragons is Thursday, August 27 against the Bowling Green Hot Rods at Fifth Third Field.
Notes: Left-handed starting pitcher Ty Boyles will be promoted to Dayton from Billings to start the first game of the series at Lake County on Monday. Boyles currently leads the Pioneer League in earned run average.