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Dragons falls to Chiefs in series opener, 5-2

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.

Dragons pitcher Packy Naughton. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

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 catcher Hendrik Clementina. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

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.

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• Saturday's game will be televised live on CW Channel 26.1, Spectrum Channel 13 and 1013, Direct TV and DISH Channel 26.

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