Extra-inning games have been a headache for the Dayton Dragons this season — and Friday night’s game was no exception.
Great Lakes scored its only run in the top of the 10th inning, beating the Dragons 1-0 in front of 7,979 fans at Fifth Third Field. The Loons — the Midwest League East Division first-half winner — swept the three-game series against Dayton, including two extra-innings victories.
With the loss, Dayton fell to 1-6 in extra-inning games, including 0-3 at home.
“We haven’t executed the way we should,” said Dragons manager Luis Bolivar. “We maybe put too much pressure on ourselves in that type of situation.”
After winning six of seven games earlier this month, the Dragons have lost five straight, including three against Great Lakes — although by the slimmest of margins.
The Dragons fell to the Loons 2-0 in 10 innings on Wednesday. They led 4-3 in Thursday’s game, but Great Lakes scored three runs in the ninth inning to earn a 6-4 victory.
The third in the series was another nailbiter.
Dragons starter Connor Curlis threw seven innings, allowing no runs on six hits with one walk and two strikeouts. Reliever Andy Fisher — the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week — was also stellar in relief, tossing three innings allowing just one hit and one unearned run.
“It was a great job by both of them,” Bolivar said. “They attacked and mixed pitches. That’s two good outings in a row, at home and on the road. They gave us all they had. I’m very proud of them.”
By rule, each team starts the 10th inning with a runner at second base. The Loons’ Dan Robinson grounded out to second base, moving Leonel Valera to third. The next batter, Kody Hoese, hit a fly ball to left fielder Nate Scantlin that scored Valera to give the Loons a 1-0 lead.
With two outs in the 10th, Dragons center fielder Michael Siani walked and Miguel Hernandez moved to third on a wild pitch by the Loons’ Justin Bruihl. The next batter Mariel Bautista lined out to the shortstop Valera to end the game.
The Dragons threatened in the ninth inning. Warren and Martinez each singled and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch by the Loons’ Cody Ochsenbien — the first time the Dragons moved a runner to third. However, Miguel Hernandez grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.
Dragons first baseman Cameron Warren had two hits in the game for Dayton.
The Dragons fell to 14-18 in the second half and sit seven games back of first-place Bowling Green (21-11). Dayton is just two games back of South Bend and Lansing, who are tied for the second-half wildcard at 16-16.
“We’re just taking it game-by-game,” Bolivar said. “We’ve got a month to go. We’ve got to keep playing good games. We can’t look ahead. We’ve got to keep going day-by-day.”
The Dragons head to Fort Wayne for three games before returning home on Tuesday for back-to-back four-game series against Bowling Green and Lake County.
Dayton doesn’t have another off-day until Aug. 13.
“This is the tough part,” Bolivar said. “This the part where you have to learn to grind and work. The mental part is huge at this stretch. You need to be prepared for this.”
Promoted: Dragons catcher and Midwest League All-Star Pabel Manzanero was called up to Daytona (Fla.), the Reds Class A Advanced affiliate, earlier this week. Manzanero was leading the Dragons in several offensive categories, including hits (95), doubles (25), home runs (10), RBIs (44) and batting average (.244). He went 3-for-4 with a double in his Tortugas debut on Friday night.
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