It was truly Wacky Wednesday at Fifth Third Field.
The start of the game was pushed back an hour by a power outage, both teams had innings where they sent at least nine batters to the plate and the clock was close to midnight when Joel Kuhnel recorded a one-pitch save in the Dragons’ 9-8 Midwest League defeat of the South Bend Cubs.
“It was crazy, but we are used to it,” Dragons second baseman Brantley Bell said after going 2-for-5 with a pair of RBIs. “It would have been easy to come out flat after the outage, but we came out and fought.”
The Dragons came out swinging with Jose Siri belting a solo homer in the first inning for a 1-0 lead.
Dayton added five more in the third on a sacrifice fly and a two-run double by Bell as the Dragons batted around in building a 6-0 advantage.
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South Bend chipped away with two in the fourth and three in the fifth to get within one, but Michael Beltre had a run-scoring single and Siri drew a bases-loaded walk for a 8-5 advantage.
The Cubs added two in the sixth and one in the ninth, but Kuhnel got a flyout to Siri in center on the first pitch he threw with the tying run on second to end the game.
“We were able to come back from last night and were more aggressive hitting-wise,” Dragons manager Luis Bolivar said, referring to Tuesday’s loss in which Dayton gave up eight runs in the ninth. “These guys never put their heads down. They just came out here and grinded it out.”
Dragons tales: The Dragons, Cubs and West Michigan enter the final stretch of the first half in a battle for the two Midwest League Eastern Division playoff spots.
West Michigan (35-17) maintained a one-game lead over the Dragons with a 2-1 win at Great Lakes on Wednesday.
Dayton pushed its lead to two games game over South Bend for the last playoff spot, dropping its magic number to 16 to clinch one of the two first-half playoff spots.
Not coincidentally, the three teams also have the top three records in the MWL since April 27 with Dayton and West Michigan posting 23-9 marks while South Bend is 20-12 during the stretch.
“It’s nice to see and it is a good learning experience for the guys to play games that mean something like this,” Bolivar said. “Games in these situations show a lot of character and it is fun for the fans to see good baseball.”
All three teams have 18 games remaining in the 70-game first half.
What next? To say this home stand has witnessed about everything would be an understatement.
Wednesday added another twist when a Dayton Power & Light breaker that services Fifth Third Field somehow was opened, according to DP&L spokesman Tom Tatham.
Power was restored after a little more than an hour and the start time was pushed back an hour to 8 p.m.
The home stand had already seen the Dragons lose two games in extra innings, including one to West Michigan on a grand slam in the 12th, a West Michigan player ejected for making contact with an umpire, a bench-clearing brawl and an eight-run ninth inning by South Bend during which the first 10 batters reached safely.
“We had no idea what was going on,” Bell said of the power outage. “We just sat in the dark for an hour, but it was a good time. I’m glad we got the game in because I didn’t want to play two seven inning games (Thursday).”
Tuesday rarity: The Dragons have been pretty good at home in 2017.
They have been even better when scoring first.
Tuesday’s ninth-inning meltdown against the Cubs marked just the second time the Dragons had lost at home when scoring first.
Dayton, 13-2 in games where they score first, last lost after scoring the first run at home on May 10 when Cedar Rapids won 6-5 in 10 innings.
Dayton has been pretty solid at home regardless of who scores first. After dropping the first two home games of the season to Lake County, the they entered Wednesday 20-5 at home.
Good start: Pitcher Carlos Machorro is off to a fast start since being promoted to Dayton from extended spring training in Arizona.
Machorro, a 6-foot-2 righty from Cadereyta, Mexico, has appeared in three games since being promoted May 24, allowing one hit and no runs in nine innings while striking out six and walking two.
On deck: The Dragons close their three-game set with the Cubs at 7 tonight at Fifth Third Field.
Ty Boyles will make his third start and second at home since being sent down from high-A Daytona.