Dayton Dragons catcher Hendrik Clementina tags out West Michigan’s John Valente at the plate at Fifth Third Field on Wednesday. Dayton fell to West Michigan 6-2. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/MICHAEL COOPER

Dragons fall 6-2, officially eliminated from Midwest League playoffs

The Dayton Dragons’ slim playoff hopes were officially dashed Thursday night.

The Dragons lost their third game in a row, falling to the West Michigan Whitecaps 6-2 in front of 7,899 fans at Fifth-Third Field.

Dayton fell to 25-40 in the second half and 56-77 overall with five games remaining this season. The Dragons were seeking back-to-back playoff berths in the Midwest League Eastern Division for the first since the 2007-2008 seasons.

West Michigan’s Jordan Pearce had three hits and two RBIs for the Whitecaps, who are still battling for a wildcard spot in the playoffs. The game was the first of a three-game series with West Michigan, its final home series of the season.

The Dragons struggled at the plate, leaving 10 runners on base and going 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Dayton threatened in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases, but catcher Hendrik Clementina struck out to end the inning.

“We had a couple of chances there, but the big hit never came,” Dragons manager Luis Bolivar said. “Lately that’s something we’ve been struggling with. We get guys on base, but we have a tough time bringing them in. It was another night like that. We keep encouraging the guys to have a good at-bat and see what happens.”

The Whitecaps took a 2-0 lead in the second inning, but the Dragons pulled to within one on a single by Alejo Lopez.

The next inning, the Whitecaps put two more on the board. Brady Policelli doubled and later scored on a triple by Wenceel Perez. A sacrifice fly by Reynaldo Rivera scored Perez to make it 4-1.

The Dragons got back another run in the bottom of the third, but were never able to take the lead. Jeter Downs and J.D. Williams each had two hits for Dayton.

Dayton starter Austin Orewiler (5-5, 3.72 ERA) pitched six innings, giving up 10 hits and striking out five.

The Dragons play two more home games against the Whitecaps before ending the season on a three-game road trip to Bowling Green. While the games won’t matter in the standings, they still matter for the players hoping to move up in the organization next season, Bolivar said.

“These guys still get evaluated no matter what,” Bolivar said. “They still have a job to do. They have to keep working and get better. A lot of things can happen in five games. You have to finish strong and see where you put yourself for next year.”

Dragons Tales

August callup: Dragons broadcaster Tom Nichols got temporarily called up to the big leagues on Tuesday.

Nichols called the fourth, fifth and sixth innings of the Cincinnati Reds’ 9-7 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on at Great American Ball Park. He appeared on the Reds Radio Network on 700-WLW AM with Jeff Brantley and his boyhood idol, Marty Brennaman.

“From my side of things, it couldn’t have gone better,” Nichols said. “It was very enjoyable. I was nervous. I didn’t want to give anyone a YouTube moment in terms of a bad call, a home run that didn’t go out or something like that.”

The Reds shared one of Nichols’ calls – Billy Hamilton’s league-leading putout of the season – on several social media platforms on Thursday.

Nichols, who has spent 31 years as a Minor League Baseball broadcaster, recently called his 4,000th minor league game earlier this month. He also serves as the team’s Director of Media Relations.

“I’m very thankful for the opportunity,” Nichols said. “Obviously, it was a career highlight for me after 31 years.”

Back at third: Reds first-round draft pick Johnathan India was back in the lineup at third base after missing multiple games with strep throat. He went 1-for-5 with two strikeouts in the loss.

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