Growing up in Ontario, Canada, Miles Gordon easily warmed up to hockey and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Those tough guys were his bladed heroes. Of course, he wanted to be just like them.
And he was as a 15-year-old high-scoring speedster in the province’s signature sport. His only problem was the future Dragons outfielder also had a budding baseball career to consider.
“The biggest thing was, my baseball coaches would say, hey, dude, you’re missing a lot of baseball practices,” he recalled after unloading the go-ahead bomb in a 4-1 defeat of visiting Lake County on Tuesday night.
“If you want to pursue this, maybe it’s time to weigh your options. I decided to give up hockey and pursue baseball and it’s been the right choice so far and I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
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So are the streaking Dragons. Gordon’s two-run dinger in the bottom of the eighth inning snapped a 1-all tie. Three Dragons pitchers combined to strike out 11 and allow just one run.
That was enough for Dayton (3-3) to win its third consecutive minor-league baseball game and second straight against the Captains (4-2). It also vaults Dayton back into early contention in the Midwest League Eastern Division.
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Dragons third baseman John Sansone had three hits and first baseman Montrell Marshall two. Left-hander Packy Naughton, last week’s Opening Day starter at Bowling Green (Ky.), became the first Dragons starter to work into the seventh inning. He lasted 6.1 impressive innings, allowing one earned run and seven hits, but also striking out seven to go with no walks.
Dragons reliever Ryan Nutof (1-0) struck out three in 1.2 innings and earned the win. Connor Ryan pitched the ninth for the save, his first.
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Gordon and Dragons catcher Morgan Lofstrom (West Kelowna, British Columbia) both grew up with sticks in their hands but switched over to baseball. They also provide a rare Canadian kinship in the Dragons clubhouse.
“Oh, for sure,” said Gordon, who opted not to play at the University of San Francisco after the Reds drafted him in the fourth round in 2015. “You miss hockey, for sure. I’m still a (Maple) Leafs fan at heart and they’re in the playoffs. Hopefully, they can go deep into the playoffs and win the Stanley Cup.”
Dragons tales: Pitching has been the main difference for the Dragons' sudden turnaround. Bowling Green scored 24 runs against Dayton in the first three games, all Dragons losses. In the next three games Dragons pitchers have allowed a combined five runs.
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The gem was the celebrated debut of pitcher Hunter Greene on Monday night. against the Captains, a 3-2 Dragons win in which he went three innings and struck out eight. Reds’ fans who follow the parent-club’s minor-league prospects were still buzzing a day later. That includes Greene’s nearly 21,000 Twitter followers.
He’s scheduled to pitch next against the Great Lakes Loons at Midland, Mich., on Saturday.
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• Just as impressive, Dragons relievers have not allowed a run in a combined 12.1 innings.
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Lake County at Dayton, 7 p.m.
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