Dragons starting pitcher Packy Naughton is big on history and tradition. That’s a given when you’re an alum of the oldest school in the country.
A Massachusetts native, the left-hander initially excelled at Boston Latin School. Classes began there in 1635 when big buckles and smooth bore weapons were the rage. He grew up embracing a steep learning curve.
“It’s a learning experience,” said Naughton after being tagged with the loss in a 5-2, series-opening defeat by the visiting Peoria Chiefs (Cardinals) on Thursday night at Fifth Third Field.
“Especially at this level, you’re trying to learn for yourself what you can do. I thought I battled, but the result wasn’t what I was expecting.”
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Naughton was the Dragons' opening-day starter at Bowling Green last month. He was the ace at Virginia Tech University for three seasons and was drafted in the ninth round by the parent-club Cincinnati Reds last June.
The Dragons have fingers crossed they’re not headed toward another streak. But that’s been their norm.
No professional team can match the Dragons’ streaks. Dayton (18-13) has won nine of its last 11 games through Thursday. That recovery followed an eight-game swoon. Prior to that Dayton had won nine straight. And it all began by starting the season 0-3.
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Catcher Hendrik Clementina staked the Dragons to a 1-0 lead with a solo homer, his seventh. He’s batting a team-high .366 and leads Dayton in most offensive categories.
“He’s making good contact with the ball,” Dragons manager Luis Bolivar said. “He’s a big guy and he has a lot of power. That ball takes off his bat. I’m glad to see that.”
Dragons outfielder Narciso Crook had a double, his 10th. But much more than four hits was needed for Dayton.
Shortstop Jose Garcia added an unearned run in the fifth to pull Dayton within 3-2. Sarkis Ohanian and Cory Thompson pitched the eighth and ninth innings for Dayton.
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It was the opener of a three-game series.
“Naughton did well,” Dragons manager Luis Bolivar said. “Seven innings, that’s a pretty good job by him. That’s what we’re looking for. He did what we asked him for.”
Dragons tales: At 18-12, Dayton was tied for the fourth-best start in club history. More impressive, 14 of those were come-from-behind wins.
“It’s awesome,” said Naughton, who lasted seven mostly solid innings and struck out four, but allowed a bases-loaded double in the fifth inning.
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“Every game we’re grinding it out. Numerous times we’re down in the seventh, eighth inning and our hitters do a fantastic job of never giving up. They’re battling until the last pitch is thrown and giving it their all. That’s all we can ask for.”
• Tyler Mondile (0-2, 9.95 ERA) was scheduled to start for the Dragons on Friday and Hunter Green (0-2, 13.97 ERA) on Saturday.
• Saturday's game will be televised live on CW Channel 26.1, Spectrum Channel 13 and 1013, Direct TV and DISH Channel 26.