Jonathan India has been in a slump, and Thursday was his night to sign autographs for Dayton Dragons fans after the game.
No worries about the timing. He gave the fans and himself something to talk and smile about while signing his name. His double in the sixth inning drove in the tying run and he later scored the winning run in a 5-4 victory over Lake County.
“I’m struggling right now and am not myself,” India said. “It feels good to come up for the team like that and get a little winning streak going.”
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The Dragons (22-31 second half) have won two straight after ending an eight-game losing and are 3.5 games out of the last available playoff spot with 17 games to play.
“We’re right where we need to be,” said Dragons catcher Mark Kolozsvary. “We just have to keep winning ballgames, keep putting quality at-bats together, keep having good pitching and I think we have a chance to get on a run.”
The Dragons will need India’s bat if they are to surpass four teams. India was the Reds’ first-round pick and No. 5 overall in June out of the University of Florida. After 17 games and 54 at-bats in the rookie leagues, the Reds promoted him to Dayton. He’s batting .189 in 15 games with 16 strikeouts as a Dragon. India has been working on his approach with hitting coach Daryle Ward.
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“Just relax up there, swing nice and easy and don’t overswing,” India said is Ward’s advice. “That’s been my problem so far just overswinging and missing my pitches.”
The Dragons fell behind 4-1 with starter Jared Solomon on the mound for five innings. But they showed their ability to come from behind at home again when two old Florida teammates and now roommates in Dayton got the big hits.
Kolozsvary, who played with India on Florida’s 2017 College World Series champion, launched his third homer of the season over the umbrellas beyond the left-field wall with a man on to cut the Captains’ lead to 4-3.
“That’s awesome to see Mark get a big hit like that,” India said. “I’m excited to play with him again. It’s been fun.”
After Andy Sugilio reached on an infield single and stole second because of his elite speed, India ripped a 105 mph double over the center fielder’s head to tie the score. India moved to third on a wild pitch and scored the winning run on Alejo Lopez’s sacrifice fly.
“That’s huge for him,” Kolozsvary said of India. “He’s been squaring up balls all over the place lately, he just can’t seem to get one to drop. So it was really nice to see one drop for him. I’m not worried at all. He’s a great player. He’s just going to keep grinding it out, and I’m sure he’ll come out of it.”
With the lead it was up to relievers Dauri Moreta and and Ryan Nutof. Moreta (2-1) pitched three perfect innings and struck out two. Nutof pitched a perfect ninth in eight pitches for his fifth save and has not allowed a run in his last six appearances.
“Three innings out of Moreta is huge,” Dragons manager Luis Bolivar said. “It gives the other guys more of a break and time to recover.”
Dragons tales: Sugilio extended his hitting streak to nine games, going 12 for 36.
•While the Dragons were on their 13-game road trip, outfielder Mitch Piatnik was released when second baseman Jeter Downs came off the disabled list.