Dragons top Bowling Green in 10 innings to sweep four-game series

Though the Dragons are not quite a third of the way through the 2017 season, playing close games is already a common occurrence. Dayton has played in 25 games decided by three runs or less and has won 20 of them, including a 6-5 win in 10 innings on Sunday against Bowling Green at Fifth Third Field.

“Our guys know how to play in close games and handle those situations,” said manager Luis Bolivar, whose team swept the four-game series with the Hot Rods. “They don’t have a lot of nerves if something goes wrong.”

Things went wrong in the seventh inning. Bowling Green scored five runs in the inning, including a three-run home run by Jonah Heim, to take a 5-2 lead. But the Dragons (30-13) quickly responded with three runs in the bottom of the frame to tie the game.

“You can’t panic,” Bolivar said. “You’ve got to battle back, and these guys have been doing it all season.”

Game changer: Brantley Bell won the game with an RBI single in the 10th.

After fouling one pitch off, Bell drove a pitch into center field and over the head of Bowling Green’s Josh Lowe. James Vasquez scored from second base, and he and all players in the dugout rushed out to Bell near second base to celebrate the victory.

Bell hit .133 over the first 13 games of the season, but he’s hit .318 in the last 30.

“He just changed his approach a little bit,” Bolivar said. “He struggled a little a few weeks ago too and had to work to get back to where he was before. It was nice for him to build up his confidence with that walk-off today.”

Dragons tales: Wennington Romero had his worst start of the season, and all the damage was done in the seventh. He allowed two hits through the first six innings, but in the seventh he walked two batters and gave up a single and a three-run home run.

“He just lost feeling for his pitches right there and he gave one up,” Bolivar said. “Besides that, he did a pretty good job. I think it’s something he can learn from and he’ll move on from it.”

Romero hadn’t allowed more than two earned runs in his last seven starts.

• Relief pitcher Andy Cox pitched in the ninth inning and continued his recent hot streak. In his last nine innings of work, Cox hasn’t allowed a run and has given up six hits. He’s also struck out 14 batters against three walks.

On deck: Dayton travels to Midland, Mich. on Monday for the first of a four-game series against the Great Lakes Loons before returning home on Friday for a four-game series against West Michigan.

Ty Boyles is expected to start for Dayton on Monday. Boyles, who previously played for the Dragons in 2015 and 2016, joined the team last Friday after being moved down from the Daytona Tortugas, the Reds’ Class-A Advance affiliate. He started seven games in Daytona and had a 2-2 record and 4.50 ERA.

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