Dragons drop third straight to TinCaps

Vince Harrison saw something in the ninth inning Saturday that sums up the Dayton Dragons’ three-game losing streak. Something he wants to see more of from his team.

More balls in play creating more opportunities to score runs.

Fort Wayne, a team that has scrapped its way to three straight wins, got what it needed when first baseman Albert Fabian made contact on the first pitch of the ninth inning by Brock Bell. He didn’t hit it hard, he didn’t hit in a gap or over the fence. He dribbled it toward third base. And as a left-handed hitter with the third baseman shifted toward the shortstop hole, Fabian easily reached base for a single.

The score was tied and the TinCaps had a baserunner, putting more pressure on Bell. The next batter, Devin Ortiz, launched a home run to left and the Dragons fell 7-5 at Day Air Ballpark.

“I know at this level it’s still a process, but we just have to make better outs,” Harrison said. “We have to give ourselves a chance like they did in that last inning. Putting the ball in play gets you a chance, and I think we were allowing the umpires to have too much influence on some of our ABs.”

The bottom third of the Dragons’ order struck out, lined out on the infield and popped up to the catcher in the ninth to end the game. The way the Dragons (6-8) scored Saturday was typical. They took advantage of walks and a hit batter with extra-base hits and all from the top half of the order.

The Dragons’ big three at the top of the order of Hector Rodriguez, Sal Stewart and Cam Collier entered Saturday’s game hitting a combined .317 and had three of the Dragons’ six hits Saturday. As a team, the Dragons were hitting .230, which is seventh in the league.

But there have been positive developments in the past three days. Ruben Ibarra, batting cleanup, had four hits Thursday and two Friday. On Saturday, No. 5 hitter Carlos Jorge with two doubles. He entered the game batting .214 with three extra-base hits. He led off the seventh inning with a double but never got to third.

In the eighth, Jorge capped a comeback. With two outs, Stewart walked, Collier doubled and Ibarra walked. Then Jorge laced a double into the right-field corner for two runs to tie the score 5-5.

“I’ve tried to make some adjustments to help my team the best I can,” Jorge said. “I’m so happy with what I’m doing now that I have to keep working on these things.”

That would be keeping his hands on top of the ball and keeping his back shoulder up. Harrison noticed.

“Carlos definitely made some adjustments after his first AB, and that was good to see,” Harrison said.

The Dragons got to the early big hit again in the third inning. Victor Acosta was hit by a pitch and Stewart walked. With Collier at the plate, Acosta scored on a wild pitch by Dylan Lesko, one of San Diego’s top pitching prospects. Then Collier hit his sixth homer of the season and fourth of the series for a 3-1 lead.

But all along the Tincaps were finding ways to score with single runs in the second, fourth and fifth innings and two in the seventh. The damage could have been worse if not for the Dragons’ debut of Easton Sikorski.

Sikorski, who pitched last year at Low-A Daytona, made his first appearance since July 21 with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth inning. At the plate was power-hitting and hot-hitting Griffin Doersching. With the count full and after a few foul balls, Sikorski struck out Doersching on an 85 mph changeup.

After Sunday’s series finale, the Dragons travel to Lansing for a six-game series in search of the secrets to consistency.

“No message is different,” Harrison said. “We have to put it together, we have to be more consistent, we have to shut it down after we score, we have to give ourselves a chance.”

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