Dayton, Ohio—The Dayton Dragons scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to come from behind and defeat the West Michigan Whitecaps 3-2 on Tuesday night at Fifth Third Field. A crowd of 7,300 saw the Dragons earn their fourth straight win.
The Dragons improved to 4-2 with the victory, the first of their four wins in which they had to battle back from a deficit. They trailed 2-0 before scoring one in the seventh and two in the eighth for the win. West Michigan fell to 3-3.
West Michigan scored two runs in the top of the sixth to snap a 25-inning scoreless streak for Dayton pitchers. The key hit in the inning was a double with one out by Blaise Salter that drove in one run and set up another. Dragons reliever Lucas Benenati worked out of a second-and-third, one out jam after the two runs had scored to keep the Dragons within striking distance.
The Dragons continued to trail 2-0 in the bottom of the seventh when Avain Rachal led off the inning with a triple to the center field fence, and Tyler Stephenson followed with a run-scoring single to make it 2-1. In the top of the eighth, West Michigan again had a chance to add to their lead, but Dragons reliever Ryan Hendrix worked out of trouble. The Whitecaps had a runner at third with no outs, but Hendrix got back-to-back strikeouts and a ground out to end the threat.
Hector Vargas led off the Dragons half of the eighth with an infield single on a slow roller to third. Michael Beltre then got a sacrifice bunt down, and when West Michigan pitcher Eduardo Jimenez threw high to first, Vargas went to third and Beltre to second. T.J. Friedl followed with a deep fly ball to center field that scored Vargas to tie the game and advanced Beltre to third. Jose Siri then delivered a fly ball to center that nearly reached the warning track, easily allowing Beltre to tag and score the tie-breaking run as the Dragons jumped ahead, 3-2.
Hendrix pitched the ninth inning for the Dragons and retired the first two hitters before allowing an infield single to put the tying run on base. But Hendrix struck out West Michigan’s Cam Gibson to end the game. Hendrix (1-0) was credited with the win.
The Dragons finished with only four hits but their situational hitting in the eighth lifted them to the lead. Rachal’s triple was the only extra base hit.
Dragons starting pitcher Tony Santillan worked the first five and one-third innings, allowing four hits and two runs with one walk and six strikeouts. Benenati replaced Santillan and was credited with one inning. He allowed one hit and no runs with three strikeouts. Andy Cox came in to get the final two outs in the top of the seventh with a runner in scoring position. Hendrix worked the final two innings, allowing two hits but no runs with no walks and three strikeouts.
Dragons pitchers combined to walk one and strikeout 13 in the game. Over the four game winning streak, Dayton pitchers have allowed a total of five runs.
The Dragons (3-2) and Whitecaps (3-2) close out the three game series at Fifth Third Field on Wednesday night at 7:00 as Dayton goes for the sweep. Scott Moss (0-1, 4.15) will start for the Dragons against West Michigan’s Kyle Funkhouser (1-0, 0.00).
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.