Dragons rally to stun Whitecaps, push win streak to five

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Highlights of Dayton's 5th straight win of the season...10-8 over the Whitecaps.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Everything that had worked so well recently for the Dragons all came apart for one half inning Wednesday night. That’s why an unlikely 10-8 comeback defeat of the West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers) was worth cranking up the celebratory hip-hop music that rings throughout the team’s locker-room after wins.

UPDATEDayton defeated the Great Lakes Loons (Dodgers) 6-3 at Midland, Mich., on Thursday to push its win streak to six.

Dayton mounted a 7-2 lead after two innings but trailed after the fifth. But the only thing that matters is the Dragons’ win streak is now five.

“We were up and then we gave it up, but the guys were still concentrating and working,” first-year manager Luis Bolivar said. “It’s fun. We’re trying to put the best team out there every night and every guy I put out there, they’re going to give it their best. I have confidence and I believe in them.”

RYAN OLSON: Meet the Dayton Dragons

Here’s something you haven’t read in a while: the Dragons (5-2) remain tied with the Lansing Lugnuts in first place of the Midwest League Eastern Division.

Whitecaps catcher Austin Athmann tags out John Sansone of the Dragons. The Dragons defeated the West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers) 10-8 in a Class A minor-league baseball game at Dayton’s Fifth Third Field on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Caption
Whitecaps catcher Austin Athmann tags out John Sansone of the Dragons. The Dragons defeated the West Michigan Whitecaps (Tigers) 10-8 in a Class A minor-league baseball game at Dayton’s Fifth Third Field on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Game changer: Michael Beltre bailed out a colossal minor-league baseball breakdown with a two-run double that dropped at the base of the deepest part of the left-field wall. That allowed the Dragons to regain the lead, 9-8. Hector Vargas followed with a single that scored Beltre.

AVAIN RACHAL: Meet the Dayton Dragons

A marathon fifth inning was nearly the Dragons’ undoing. With Dayton leading 7-2 and starting pitcher Scott Moss having hit his pitch count, it was time to call on the shutdown bullpen.

STREAKING: Dragons rally for fourth straight win

Instead, West Michigan batted around, benefiting from three walks, three wild pitches, a passed ball and a hit batter. That carnage added up to five runs that drew the teams even at 7-all.

GEM CITY: Dragons starter Andrew Jordan in command

Dragons reliever Jesse Stallings came on in the sixth and immediately was in trouble, issuing a walk. Catcher Cassidy Brown didn’t help. He bounced at least one throwback to Stallings and then lofted the ball over Stallings’ head. That enabled Cam Gibson of the Whitecaps, the son of former Tigers great Kirk Gibson, to race to third and eventually tally the go-ahead run in the fifth.

Dragons tales: Tyler Stephenson, the Dragons' regular catcher, was the designated hitter. He launched a three-run homer in second inning, scoring T.J. Friedl and Hector Vargas. Stephenson's homer, his second of the season, landed in the new left-field party zone.

JESSE STALLINGS: Meet the Dayton Dragons

Vargas had three hits and Stephenson four RBIs. Reliever Jesse Adams (1-0) earned the win, going 2 1/3 innings and striking out two.

• Friedl, batting leadoff again, has hit in all six games he’s played, missing only the season opener.

On deck: The Dragons open a three-game series against the Great Lakes Loons (Dodgers) at Midland, Michigan, on Thursday. Left-hander Wennington Romero (1-0, 3.00 ERA) gets the start. The Santo Domingo native beat Lake County last weekend, lasting six innings and allowing two earned runs in a 7-3 win.

Romero signed as an international free agent in 2014. This is his first season with the Dragons after splitting time with the AZL Reds and Billings Mustangs last season.

Dustin May (0-0, 19.29 ERA) will start for the Captains. The 6-6 red-headed right-hander was torched for five hits and five earned runs in 2 1/3 innings against the Lugnuts (Dodgers) last Saturday. He was a third-round pick out of Northwest High School at Justin, Texas, last year.

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TODAY’S GAME

Dayton at Great Lakes, 6 p.m.

WONE-AM (980)