Stephenson, Dragons slam Snappers 7-2

Beloit, Wisc.—Tyler Stephenson blasted a grand slam home run in the top of the ninth inning as the Dayton Dragons defeated the Beloit Snappers 7-2 on Thursday night.  With the win, the Dragons won two-out-three in the series at Beloit.

The Dragons improved to 17-10 on the season and remained in a tie for first place with West Michigan in the Midwest League East Division.  South Bend trails by one-half game.

The Dragons led 3-2 entering the ninth inning and had allowed opportunities to build their lead to escape in recent innings.  They loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh and did not score, put runners at first and third with no outs in the eighth and came away empty, and then loaded the bases with no one out in the ninth.  It looked like the Snappers might again get out of trouble when Jose Siri flied out to left field and Luis Gonzalez, who attempted to tag at third and scored, was ruled to have left the base early and called for a double play.  But after John Sansone walked to re-load the bases, Stephenson connected on a grand slam, the first by a Dayton player since Daniel Sweet on August 6, 2016, and the Dragons extended their lead to 7-2.  Beloit did not score in the bottom of the inning.

The Dragons took a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning when Michael Beltre connected on a two-run double with two outs.  Beloit scored an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth to make it 2-1, but the Dragons added a run in the sixth when Jose Siri singled and eventually scored on a pair of errors to make it 3-1.  Beloit pulled to within a run in the seventh before Stephenson’s grand slam closed out the scoring in the ninth.

Dragons starting pitcher Scott Moss (3-1) earned the win.  He worked five innings, allowing one unearned run on five hits with four walks and five strikeouts.  Moss increased his Midwest League leading strikeout total to 46 on the year.

Reliever Ryan Hendrix followed Moss and worked a scoreless sixth inning.  Aaron Fossas tossed the seventh and the eighth, allowing one run on two hits with a walk and two strikeouts.  The run allowed by Fossas was his first of the season after 17 scoreless innings.  Joel Kuhnel pitched the ninth in a non-save situation, working a scoreless frame.

The Dragons 12-hit attack was led by Stephenson, who had a huge night, going 3 for 4 with a walk and his third homer of the season.  Stephenson increased his RBI total to 23 with four in the game, lifting him into a tie for the league lead.  Luis Gonzalez, Jose Siri, and Avain Rachal each had two hits for the Dragons.

The Dragons (17-10) open a new three-game series in Appleton, Wisconsin on Friday night at 7:35 p.m. (EDT) against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (12-12).  Wennington Romero (2-0, 2.33) will start for the Dragons against Wisconsin’s Nattino Diplan (1-1, 4.63).

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.

Notes:  The Dragons have won six of their last seven games…Over Moss’ last three starts, he has allowed just three runs (one earned) in 17 innings…Kuhnel has enjoyed five straight scoreless outings in the Dayton bullpen and has not allowed a run since April 19…Dragons shortstop Hector Vargas began serving a two-game suspension on Thursday.  Vargas was ejected from Wednesday night’s game for arguing a third strike call.

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