Cardona dominant again as Dragons blank Cubs

Dayton starting pitcher Ryan Cardona fired five no-hit innings, his second straight hitless start, as the Dragons defeated the South Bend Cubs 5-0 on Tuesday night. The game was the start of a six-game series.

A crowd of 7,865 was in attendance at Day Air Ballpark in the heart of the Water Street District.  The game was played at a rapid pace, finishing in one hour, 54 minutes, the shortest nine-inning game for the Dragons since May 5, 2019 at Cedar Rapids, and the shortest nine-inning game at home since April 22, 2012.  The franchise record for quickest nine-inning game is 1:49 in 2005.

The Dragons opened the scoring in the fourth inning when Sal Stewart doubled and Carlos Jorge followed with a two-run home run to right field, his 10th homer of the year, to make it 2-0.

In the fifth, the Dragons added three more runs. Cade Hunter started the rally with an infield single and advanced to third on a hit by Hector Rodriguez. Stewart followed with a single to center field that brought in Hunter.  odriguez was thrown out at the plate on the play. After Jorge reached on an infield single and a balk advanced runners to second and third, Leo Balcazar delivered a two-run single to right field to bring in Stewart and Jorge to make it 5-0.

Cardona allowed the first batter he faced to reach on a walk before retiring the next 14 hitters. He faced the minimum 15 batters in his five innings, getting a double play in the first to erase the only runner against him. Cardona tossed six no-hit innings in his last start one week ago to win Midwest League Pitcher of the Week.

“Obviously, it’s a personal honor, but I wouldn’t be able to do it without my catchers, and my (pitching) coach too,” Cardona said. “(Pitching coach) Brian Garman has been on me. I’m happy I’m hitting my stride now. I made some mistakes early in the year in terms of pitch calling, pitch sequencing, and what not. He held me accountable, so I’m thankful for it.”

Arij Fransen replaced Cardona and fired three scoreless innings. He allowed the first hit of the game in the sixth inning, a single to left field with two outs. Brock Bell pitched the final inning, allowing one hit, a two-out single.

Stewart and Jorge each had two hits for the Dragons.

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