For the second straight night, Pabel Manzanero was the hero for the Dayton Dragons.
The Midwest League All-Star’s two-run double in the sixth inning helped the Dragons erase an early deficit and they held on to beat the Fort Wayne TinCaps 3-2 in front of 7,802 people on Monday night at Fifth Third Field, sweeping the four-game series.
With the victory, Dayton won its eighth straight game. The Dragons are the hottest team in the Midwest League, improving to 25-39 on the season.
“I’m so excited for the team, for the guys,” Manzanero said. “We’re getting better. We’ve changed our mind. We’re keeping focus and doing the little things on the field that’s going to help us win.”
Dragons center fielder Michael Siani had two hits and stole his 19th base of the season, while second baseman Randy Ventura also had two hits in the win. Dayton’s pitching staff combined for 15 strikeouts in the game, including five by Moises Nova, who picked up his first win of the season.
With each victory, the Dragons gain more and more confidence, Bolivar said. They hope to carry that momentum into the Midwest League’s second half, which starts June 20.
“They’re building confidence and they know how to win games now,” he said. “They know what to expect. Heading into the second half, hopefully that same confidence will carry over.”
After four scoreless innings, the TinCaps finally broke open the game in the top of the fifth. With one out, Juwuan Harris walked and moved to second base when Dayton first baseman Bren Spillane missed a pickoff throw. After TinCaps second baseman Tucupita Marcano flew out to center field on a diving grab by Siani, Lee Solomon walked, putting runners at first and second with two outs. TinCaps catcher Blake Hunt smashed a double to left field, scoring Harris from second.
The Dragons took the lead for good in the sixth inning. Ventura led off the inning with a single and moved to second on a overthrow at first by TinCaps pitcher Gabe Mosser. The next batter Siani singled off the second baseman’s glove, scoring Ventura to tie the game.
Siani stole second base and moved to third on an overthrow by TinCaps catcher Blake Hunt. With the infield playing in, Gordon hit a ground ball to the second baseman Marcano, who threw out Siani at home plate.
But the Dragons weren’t finished. Gordon moved to second base on a single by Brian Rey, setting up Manzanero’s two-run double that gave Dayton a 3-1 lead.
The TinCaps pulled to within one on a 385-foot home run by Michael Curry in the top of the eighth inning.
In the ninth inning, the benches cleared after TinCaps third baseman Kelvin Melean got into an argument with Dragons catcher Morgan Lofstrom at home plate, but neither team had a player ejected from the game.
“It’s a good thing,” Bolivar said. “The guys are in the game. They’re putting in a lot of effort and it means a lot to them, so that’s why emotions come out like that.”
With one out and a runner at second base, Dragons closer Connor Bennett entered the game and struck out Jawuan Harris and forced Marcano to ground out to second base to seal the victory and earn his seventh save of the season.
Dragons starter Jared Solomon pitched two scoreless innings, striking out three, but was pulled as a precaution in the third inning after feeling discomfort in his shoulder, Bolivar said.
Alexis Diaz pitched three innings, allowing one run on one hit with four strikeouts. Nova earned the win by striking out five in two scoreless innings, while Adrian Rodriguez earned his third hold of the season, allowing one run on two hits in 1.1 innings of work.
Give back game: The Dragons and the Reds Community Fund have partnered on a special fundraising event next month as part of the Reds’ 150th anniversary.
The Dragons are offering $12 tickets to their Sunday, July 14, game against the Beloit Snappers, which includes a Dragons hat. The Reds Community Fund will be giving back $6 of every ticket to assist tornado recovery efforts in the Dayton area. The deadline to order tickets is June 28.
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