Collier cracks 11th home run, but Dragons lose to Loons

If disputed minor-league baseball plays were reviewed in New York, Dayton Dragons manager Vince Harrison Jr. would not have been ejected in the seventh inning Thursday night.

And, after a mythical review would have proven Harrison Jr. correct, he could have told home-plate umpire Tatum Littleton: “I told you so.”

Instead, Harrison Jr. had other words for Littleton because no one else, including a mythical replay official, could make his case for him. And it wasn’t long before Littleton ejected Harrison Jr. for arguing against a safe call at the plate. The run kept the inning alive for Great Lakes, pushed the lead to three runs, and put the momentum squarely behind the Loons on their way to an 8-2 victory at Day Air Ballpark.

With two outs and Nelson Quiroz on third base, Noah Miller hit a fly ball to center fielder Jay Allen II. He made a strong throw a little to the first base side of home plate. Catcher Cade Hunter dove toward Quiroz for the tag. Quiroz slid hands first behind home plate and reached out with his left hand.

Quiroz’s hand crossed home plate ahead of Hunter’s tag. But Harrison and Hunter knew what the replays from multiple angles showed. Quiroz’s hand never touched the plate and sailed a few inches above it as he slid by.

Harrison Jr. couldn’t let the missed call go. On Tuesday in a 4-3 win over Great Lakes, Dragons catcher Logan Tanner tagged a runner on a sacrifice fly. Littleton called the runner safe, and the Dragons complained about that call and are sure they were right.

“I can’t watch the same guy make the same mistake twice,” Harrison Jr. said. “It’s too big of a part of the game. Logan had a very similar response the other day, and that time I gave benefit of the doubt. I got to check the video, and he missed it. It’s too fresh, same play, same ... it’s too fresh and can’t happen. It just can’t happen.”

After Harrison Jr. was ejected and the game was about ready to resume, Hunter started pointing at home plate and strenuously made his case to Littleton. It didn’t take Littleton long to eject Hunter.

“The other day Logan did the same thing, and I trust my catchers,” Harrison Jr. said. “Those two aren’t emotional players. They play with emotion, but they’re not emotional players. So when you trust guys and how they’re going to respond, their response told me everything I needed to know.”

The Dragons (29-31) fell behind 3-0 in the third on Dylan Campbell’s three-run homer. The Dragons cut the Loons (33-27) lead to one on Allen’s RBI double in the third and Cam Collier’s 11th home run in the fourth.

The Dragons had just five hits, and when they loaded the bases to start the ninth it didn’t matter. A strikeout and double play ended the game.

With only six games left in the first half of the season and the Dragons out of contention for first place, the goal is to climb above .500 with three games left against the second-place Loons and the first half of next week’s series against West Michigan.

“We know we can play with them,” Harrison Jr. said of the Loons. “They’re a good team, but we don’t need to do anything other than play like we’re able to. We haven’t put up much offense, but we’ve had opportunities. The story of the last couple of days is we’ve given up some free 90s whether it be a walk or not controlling the running game. We just have to play clean games and just haven’t done it.”

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