“When you’re winning you’re playing good baseball,” beamed Dragons manager Luis Bolivar. “The guys are getting mentally stronger and they’re having fun. That’s a good thing. I just love this. You have to love it.”
Game changer: Dragons starting pitcher Tony Santillan locked into a zone before the first pitch. He limited the Midwest League Western Division co-leaders to just two hits over six inning and struck out 10 to even his record to 2-2.
One of those hit was a second-inning solo bomb by Kernels shortstop and leadoff hitter Jermaine Palacios.
“Starting out I felt confident every pitch,” said Santillan, an Arlington, Texas native. “I had a good flow into the game and my confidence built up pretty quick the first inning. It was mainly confidence. I had confidence to throw any pitch on any count and that really helped.”
Dragons relievers Ryan Hendrix and Andy Cox were just a superb. Hendrix went two scoreless inning, allowing no hits and striking out five. He needed just 10 pitches to punch out the side in the seventh inning. His first offering that brief inning was ball, then he rung up nine straight strikes.
Cox earned the save - his second - with a scoreless ninth in which he struck out two. The three Dragons pitchers combined for 17 strikeouts and allowed just two hits.
“It’s fun,” Santillan said. “It’s fun all around. Everyone’s having fun and enjoying themselves. We all know once we get on the field it’s time to work, time to compete and we’ve done a good job separating when to have fun and when to get after it.”
Plate punch: Dragons center fielder Jose Siri singled to start the game-deciding fourth inning. With two outs, Dragons first baseman James Vasquez, second baseman Brantley Bell and catcher Cassidy Brown all delivered run-scoring hits to chase losing pitcher Eduardo Del Rosario (2-2).
Vasquez (.250 batting average) and Bell (.310) had two hits each and Brown (.157) collected two RBI’s.
Dragons tales: Dayton has outscored opponents 61-12 over the last 10 wins. The Dragons remain in first place in the ML Eastern Division by 1.5 games over West Michigan (Tigers).
• Dayton has won four straight games and is coming off a 5-1 road trip against West Division teams.
• This is the only series Cedar Rapids will play at Dayton. The Dragons are 11 games above .500 for the first time since they finished the 2011 season with a club-best 83-57 record.
• Not surprisingly, Dayton led the Class A Midwest League in team hitting (.294) and pitching (2.17 ERA) for the entire month of April. Just as impressive, Dayton has six shutout wins and is the only ML team that hasn’t been shut out.
“I’ve said from the beginning this group of guys are really something special,” Bolivar said. “They know what they’re going for and they keep working hard every day.”
On deck: Lefty Scott Moss (3-1, 2.61 ERA) gets the Dragons start in Tuesday's game and will oppose right-hander Tyler Beardsley (3-1, 3.91). Moss, from Deltona, Florida and the University of Florida, leads the ML with 46 strikeouts.
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Cedar Rapids at Dayton, 7 p.m.
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