West Michigan may have the Midwest League’s best record, but you couldn’t blame the Whitecaps if a little doubt started to set in.
Dayton pitchers Scott Moss and Tony Santillan would be the reason, because it’s likely they’ll face the Whitecaps in the first two games of the MWL playoffs, which begin at Fifth Third Field on Sept. 6.
Santillan (7-7, 3.56 ERA) worked five innings, allowed one run, struck out nine, walked three and allowed four hits in the Dragons’ 3-1 home win Thursday.
Together, Santillan and Moss combined to allow one run while striking out 14 in 10 innings during the final two games of the series. The Whitecaps lost back-to-back to the same opponent for the first time since mid-April.
Santillan’s biggest test came in the fifth, when he allowed consecutive singles to start the inning. With runners on first and second, and no outs, Santillan rebounded by striking out the side.
“That’s huge for him to come out of a tough situation and he can keep his composure out there and his emotions under control,” manager Luis Bolivar said. “He did it great, he came out of that inning and it was huge.”
Game changer: Lady Luck helped Dayton in the second when DH John Sansone hit a one-out grounder up the middle that pitcher Anthony Castro got a glove on. The change in trajectory forced second baseman Chad Sedio to hurry his throw to Danny Pinero, who couldn’t pick the ball out of the dirt.
Hector Vargas doubled into the right-field corner to bring Sansone around. Carlos Rivero then singled, moving Vargas to third. Next, Randy Ventura’s high chopper to third lingered in the air so long, the third baseman was left with no time to make a play, scoring Vargas and giving the Dragons a 2-0 lead.
Dragons tales: It’s been a historic season for the Dragons with the club earning its first postseason berth since 2011 and Jose Siri breaking the Midwest League record for consecutive games with a hit.
Left fielder Taylor Trammell recently joined the fun when he became the sixth player in Dragons history to hit 10 homers and steal 20 bases in a season. Siri accomplished the feat earlier this season, and Bolivar achieved the milestone as a player in 2004.
Trammell entered Thursday tied for second in the MWL in RBIs (66) and stolen bases (33), third in hits (124), fifth in total bases (196), and eighth is batting average (.285).
The first-round competitive balance pick of the Reds in 2016 is living up to his draft status.
Trammell’s always working on his game, because if you’ve got nothing to work on, you won’t get better, he said. Two skills he’s seen improve this season include his aggressiveness at the plate and his defense.
“I worked with the rovers that came here, Eric Davis and Barry Larkin and a few other guys and my hitting coach, Daryle Ward,” he said. “And also, being out in the outfield, learning reads off the bat from left field. That’s tough … just reads off the bat, because guys are hitting the ball harder this year, a little faster, you’ve got to prepare … and make the right jumps.”
On deck: Andrew Jordan (5-7, 4.60) starts for the Dragons in the first of a four-game series at Lake County. Zach Plesac (0-0, 1.13) takes the mound for the Captains.