GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan – The West Michigan Whitecaps battled back from a 5-0 deficit in the first inning to defeat the Dayton Dragons 6-5 in the opener to a four-game series on Thursday night.
The Dragons enjoyed their biggest first inning of the season, knocking West Michigan starting pitcher Fernando Perez out of the game before the inning was complete. The Dragons collected four hits and three walks in the inning to jump out to a 5-0 lead.
But West Michigan shutout the Dragons over the remaining eight innings, and chipped away at the deficit. They scored one run in the bottom of the first, two more in the fourth, and then took the lead with two runs in the fifth inning.
The Dragons best chance to score came in the eighth. Brantley Bell singled to right with one out, and Jose Siri lined a single to left to move Bell to second. Mitch Piatnik then hit a high fly ball to center that was lost in the twilight sky by West Michigan’s Jose Azocar as the ball fell untouched. Bell advanced to third, but Siri arrived late to second as the throw came in from the outfield for a force that that was the second out of the inning. Shane Mardirosian grounded out to second base to end the threat.
Dayton collected nine hits. Siri was 3 for 4. James Vasquez had two hits including a double. Bell also had two hits.
The Dragons five-run first inning was highlighted by Bell’s two-run single. Siri and Shed Long also had RBI singles in the inning. The other run scored on a wild pitch.
Dragons starting pitcher Ty Boyles (0-2) worked four innings, allowing six runs on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts to suffer the loss.
The Dragons (3-12) battle the Whitecaps (7-7) again on Friday at 6:35 p.m. Tanner Rainey (0-2, 5.11) will start for the Dragons against West Michigan’s Matt Hall (1-0, 0.84).