Dragons rally past River Bandits in 11

DAYTON, Ohio—T.J. Friedl’s sacrifice fly brought in pinch runner Michael Beltre from third base in the bottom of the 11th inning as the Dayton Dragons came from behind to defeat the Quad Cities River Bandits 10-9 on Saturday.  The Dragons completed a sweep of the three-game series.

The game featured late comebacks by both teams.  The Dragons led 8-3 going to eighth inning before the River Bandits rallied to tie the game and eventually take the lead in the top of the 11th, but the Dragons answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning to win.

The Dragons improved to 25-11 on the season, continuing to hold the highest wins total in all of Minor League Baseball.  They remain in first place in the Midwest League East Division.  They lead West Michigan by one game and South Bend by a game and a half.  The Dragons are 14-2 over their last 16 games.

The Dragons trailed 9-8 in the bottom of the 11th inning.  They started their game-winning rally with one out when Brantley Bell walked on a 3-2 pitch.  James Vasquez singled to right field to move Bell to third, and Beltre came in to run for Vasquez.  Luis Gonzalez lined a single to left to score Bell and tie the game as Beltre went to second.  Hector Vargas walked to load the bases, and Friedl followed with a fly ball to right-center field that was easily deep enough to bring in Beltre and win the game for the Dragons.

Quad Cities’ Rodrigo Ayarza blasted a three-run game-tying home run with two outs in the ninth inning and then delivered a tie-breaking single in the top of the 11th to lift the River Bandits to a 9-8 lead.  The River Bandits scored two in the eighth and three in the ninth to tie the game before taking the brief lead in the 11th.

Hector Vargas collected three hits including a home run and drove in three runs to lead the Dragons 13-hit attack.  Friedl had two hits and three RBI including the game-winner.  Taylor Trammell had a double, triple, walk, and run scored.  Tyler Stephenson had a hit, three walks and two RBI.  Gonzalez and Jose Siri also had two hits.

The River Bandits got the scoring started with an unearned run in the top of the first inning before the Dragons tied the game in the bottom of the same inning.  Siri reached on a one-out single, went to third on Trammell’s double, and scored on Stephenson’s sacrifice fly to make it 1-1.  The Dragons jumped ahead 2-1 in the third on a single by Friedl and three walks, the last to Cassidy Brown that brought Friedl in to score.

After Quad Cities tied the game with a run in the top of the fifth, the Dragons exploded in the bottom of the fifth inning, sending 10 batters to the plate, collected a season-high six hits in an inning, and scoring five runs.  The rally began with a lead-off triple by Trammell, and Stephenson singled him in to give the Dragons a 3-2 lead.  With two outs, Vasquez was hit by a pitch and Gonzalez reached on an infield single to load the bases.  Vargas then lined an 0-2 pitch for a single to right field to drive in Stephenson and Vasquez as Gonzalez went to third and Vargas took second on the throw home to make it 5-2.  Friedl followed with a bouncer through the middle to drive in both Gonzalez and Vargas to give the Dragons a 7-2 lead.

Each team scored one run in the seventh as Vargas connected on a solo homer for the Dragons, his first home run of the year.  Quad Cities pulled to within three in the top of the eighth on a two-run home run by Chuckie Robinson to make it 8-5.  Then in the ninth, the River Bandits tied the game on a two-out, three-run home run from Ayarza.

Dragons starting pitcher Tony Santillan worked the first five and two-thirds innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits with no walks and seven strikeouts.  Over Santillan’s last two starts, he has struck out 17 batters without allowing a walk.

Jesse Adams replaced Santillan and worked two innings, allowing three hits and three runs with no walks and five strikeouts.  Jesse Stallings got the final out in the eighth.  Joel Kuhnel entered the game to pitch the ninth and surrendered three hits including a two-out, three-run home run by Rodrigo Ayarza that tied the game.  Kuhnel pitched a scoreless 10th and was replaced by Patrick Riehl to start the 11th.  Riehl (1-1) gave up the go-ahead run but was credited with the win after the Dragons rallied in the bottom half of the inning.

The Dragons do not play on Sunday.  They begin a three-game series in South Bend, Indiana against the South Bend Cubs on Monday at 7:05 p.m.  Scott Moss (4-1, 2.50) will pitch for the Dragons against South Bend’s Tyson Miller (1-0, 1.93).  The next home game is Thursday, May 18 when the Dragons host the Bowling Green Hot Rods at Fifth Third Field.

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