EASTLAKE, Ohio—Tyler Stephenson blasted a long home run and the Dayton Dragons tied a club record with eight stolen bases as they defeated the Lake County Captains 7-3 on Saturday night. The win gave the Dragons their first victory of the season as they improved to 1-2.
Dragons 19-year-old starting pitcher Wennington Romero, in his first Midwest League start, was exceptional over most of his outing. He allowed only one ball to leave the infield over the first four innings and struck out nine in the game without issuing a walk. Romero earned the win, working six innings and allowing just four hits and two runs.
The Dragons collected 12 hits with a well-balanced attack, scoring runs in five different innings. Four players had two hits including Stephenson along with Michael Beltre, Luis Gonzalez, and Jose Siri. Avain Rachal had one hit, three walks, and two runs batted in.
The Dragons took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when T.J. Friedl lined a double to center field and scored on Siri’s single to right. In the second, the Dragons scored again when Gonzalez singled to center with one out, went to second on Beltre’s bunt single, and advanced to third when Friedl grounded into a fielder’s choice. Friedl and Gonzalez then pulled off a double steal as Gonzalez scored on the back end to make it 2-0.
The Dragons extended their lead to 5-0 in the fifth. Siri opened the inning with a single to center and stole second. He advanced to third on Taylor Trammell’s ground out and scored on Stephenson’s single to right. Stephenson scored on Rachal’s double to left, and Rachal came in on Brantley Bell’s hit to right to give the Dragons a three-run inning.
Lake County scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth to make it 5-2, but Stephenson responded by launching a home run in the seventh inning that cleared the entire bleacher section beyond the left field fence. It was Stephenson’s first homer of the year.
After Lake County scored one run in the bottom of the seventh, the Dragons closed out the scoring in the top of the ninth when Trammell walked and eventually scored on Rachal’s ground ball to shortstop.
Dragons reliever Andy Cox stranded runners at second and third in the seventh inning, and Dayton reliever Joel Kuhnel did the same in the eighth. Kuhnel earned the save by working the final two innings, allowing no runs on three hits with no walks and one strikeout.
The Dragons tied a club record set in 2009 with eight stolen bases. Siri stole three while Bell swiped two. Gonzalez, Trammell, and Friedl each had one.
The Dragons and Captains will meet again in Eastlake on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. in the last game of the four-game set. Ryan Olson will make his professional debut as the Dragons starting pitcher. Olson compiled a 15-0 record in two college seasons at Cal Poly Pomona before being drafted by the Reds in June of 2016. He did pitch professionally last summer due to a back injury. Shane Bieber will start for Lake County. The Dragons next home game is Monday, April 10 vs. the West Michigan Whitecaps.