Coming into the second half, the Dayton Dragons had hit a bit of a bump after wrapping up a playoff spot in the first half.
Key players such as Brantley Bell and TJ Freidl had moved up and new faces had arrived, causing somewhat of a re-learning process.
“We’ve got to get the new guys involved and get that chemistry together,” manager Luis Bolivar said after Dayton took an 8-1 win from Fort Wayne on Saturday night at Fifth Third Field. “They have to learn how to play as a team and I am seeing a little more chemistry there and I think as we keep playing they will gel better.”
A night after putting 12 runs on the board, the Dragons hit a season-high four home runs.
Jose Siri had a solo shot in the third and a two-run homer in the seventh, John Sansone started the scoring with a solo shot in the second and Tyler Stephenson belted a two-run blast high off the scoreboard in left in the sixth.
While the offense was delivering, starter Tony Santillan cruised to his fifth win. The Texan righty struck out eight while allowing three hits and walking three in five shutout innings.
“When you have good offense and good defense, the pitching looks easier,” Bolivar said. “But Santillan and our other pitchers went out there and did a great job.”
Old-time marvels: Bolivar was one of several Dragons to stand on the top step of the dugout and watch the Vintage Baseball Classic between the Cincinnati Red Stockings and the Eastwood Iron Horses prior to Saturday’s game.
Vintage baseball is an exact re-creation of the game as it was played in the 1860s.
“I had never got a chance to see that before and it was pretty cool,” Bolivar said. “I really enjoyed it. Seeing the old rules and how they did things, it was really neat to see how much the game has changed.”
Proud Gator: At least one Dragon was tuned in to the recent College World Series.
Dragons starter Scott Moss was a fourth-round pick by the Cincinnati Reds in 2016 from the University of Florida, and he enjoyed watching his former teammates claim the NCAA title.
“It was cool seeing the guys who came in when I was a junior win it,” Moss said. “Florida hadn’t won it in a long time and it was really neat to see the guys I played with get a chance to win it.”
Moss was 3-0 with a 1.57 ERA and was named to the Southeastern Conference All-Tournament team in 2016.
Doubling up: Stephenson has a unique streak going.
The former top draft pick of the Reds entered Saturday night with an extra-base hit in his last eight games, a stretch in which he had two homers and six doubles.
Stephenson pushed the streak to nine with a 408-foot home run in the sixth inning.
Dazzling debut: Alfredo Mena, who had been at Billings, made an impression in his debut.
Featuring a fastball that topped out at 96 and a curve that clocked at 89, the 6-foot-3-inch Dominican Republic native allowed a walk in two innings of work, striking out three.
Offensive surge: Twelve runs against Fort Wayne on Friday night marked the first time the Dragons had scored in double digits since May 25 at Great Lakes, a 14-6 win.
The Dragons had been close since then, putting nine on South Bend at the end of May.
Saturday’s seven-run third-inning tied the team mark for most runs in an inning this season. Dayton had previously scored seven in an inning against Lansing on April 17 and Great Lakes on April 29.
The Dragons are 38-12 when scoring at least four runs.
On deck: The Dragons play the TinCaps again today at 2:07 p.m. Andrew Jordan (3-5, 4.58) opposes Fort Wayne’s Reggie Lawson in the third game of a four-game set.