Dragons lose big lead, fall in West Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The West Michigan Whitecaps scored six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to erase a five-run deficit and defeat the Dayton Dragons 8-7.  The Whitecaps earned a sweep of the three-game series.

The Dragons took a 7-2 lead to the bottom of the eighth with reliable reliever Ryan Hendrix on the mound.  Hendrix began the day having allowed just two runs in 20.2 innings with the Dragons this season, but he surrendered six hits and five runs in the inning.  Hendrix was replaced by Sarkis Ohanian with one out and a runner at third base with the Dragons still leading 7-6.  Ohanian got a big strikeout for the second out of the inning, but David Gonzalez followed with a liner to right field that eluded the reach of outfielder Mitch Piatnik to bring in the tying run.  The next batter, Jose Zambrano, hit a looping liner into shallow center field that shortstop Luis Gonzalez appeared to midjudge as the ball cleared his glove by inches for a base hit, allowing David Gonzalez to score with the tie-breaking run and give West Michigan an 8-7 lead.  The Dragons had a one-out base runner in the ninth but could not score as the Whitecaps held on for an unlikely comeback.

Dragons starting pitcher Wendolyn Bautista gave up two runs in the opening inning and then shut down the Whitecaps over the next five.  Bautista worked six innings and allowed two runs on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts.  Ohanian (0-3) was charged with the loss.

The Dragons collected 15 hits in the game.  Piatnik led the attack with a home run, double, and single.  Shane Mardirosian also had three hits including a double and two runs batted in.  Daniel Sweet had a double and triple.  Brantley Bell had two hits including a double.  Jose Duarte also had two hits and an RBI.

West Michigan scored two runs in the first inning before Piatnik homered in the third for the Dragons, his third of the season.  The Dragons took the lead with two runs in the fourth, keyed by a double by Mardirosian and a run-scoring single by Duarte.  The Dragons added two more in the fifth and then added single runs in the seventh and eighth to build their lead to 7-2.

The Dragons (20-36, 41-85) return home on Monday night when they host the Lansing Lugnuts (27-28, 63-62) at 7:00 p.m. at Fifth Third Field in the start to a four-game series.   Tony Santillan (2-2, 6.41) will start for the Dragons against Lansing’s Josh DeGraaf (5-6, 3.20).

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