Nobody has been happier to see the calendar change from June to July than the Dayton Dragons.
After a 11-14 June, that included a 5-10 stretch to end the month, the Dragons remained perfect in July on Thursday night at Fifth Third Field with a 3-1 win over Fort Wayne.
“Hopefully getting July off on the right foot will lead us to something better,” Dragons manager Jose Nieves said after his squad moved to 6-8 in the second half .
More importantly, the win gave the Dragons their first series sweep since they took three from Bowling Green on June 11-12. It was their fifth sweep of the season.
“Winning a series is important when you are looking to make the playoffs,” Nieves said. “It is a day-by-day thing, but I think we are coming back on track.”
The Dragons were happy to see Jackson Stephens come back on track.
After recording no-decisions in his first two starts, Stephens retired the first nine batters he faced en route to his first win of the season.
“(Pitching) coach (Ray) Fossas told me to throw the ball low in the zone and throw it with authority,” Stephens said. “I needed to have a little intensity because I had been lackadaisical. I thought I threw with a better tempo and did a good job making the game go faster.”
Fort Wayne’s first baserunner came via error in the fourth with the no-hitter being broken up on well placed two-out hit and run.
Stephens worked 5 2/3 innings and struck out four.
“It feels great,” Stephens said. “The team played great. They got a fast start and got me some runs and gave me the confidence to go out and compete and the defense and outfielders made some great platys behind me.”
Dayton jumped on Fort Wayne with a pair of runs in the first when Jon Matthews singled and reached when the Tin Caps’ dropped a fly ball by Daniel Pigott. Phil Ervin’s ground out scored Pigott for the second run.
Tanner Rahier, who extended his hitting streak to 10 games, added an insurance run in the sixth when he scored on a bases loaded walk to Ronald Bueno.
That would be more than enough for Stephens, Zack Weiss and Alejandro Chacin. Weiss allowed one hit in 2 1/3 innings and Chacin worked a perfect ninth for his sixth save.
Dayton opens a three-game series at Bowling Green at 8:05 tonight.