Dayton looked sure to complete a series sweep of Quad Cities on Saturday night at Fifth Third Field, but the River Bandits scored five late runs to send the game to extra innings.
Quad Cities scored in the top of the 11th inning to take a 9-8 lead, but the Dragons rallied in the bottom half of the inning and won 10-9 after a walk-off sacrifice fly by TJ Friedl.
With one out in the 11th, Brantley Bell drew a walk and James Vasquez followed with a single to right that moved Bell to third. Vasquez was replaced by pinch runner Michael Beltre, and Luis Gonzalez then hit a line-drive single to left field to score Bell.
After Hector Vargas walked to load the bases, Friedl hit a sacrifice fly to right field which scored Beltre and gave Dayton a come-from-behind win.
Dayton led 8-3 heading into the eighth, but Chuckie Robinson hit a two-run home run off of reliever Jesse Adams to narrow South Bend’s deficit to three runs. In the ninth, Rodrigo Ayarza hit a two-out, three-run home run off of Joel Kuhnel to tie the game. Kuhnel struck out the next batter, but the Dragons went down in order in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings.
Hot start: Dayton was hot at the plate in middle innings and looked to have put the game away in the fifth. With the game tied 2-2, Quad Cities replaced starter Ryan Hartman with reliever Ronel Blanco, and the Dragons went to work.
Taylor Trammell led Dayton off with a triple, and Tyler Stephenson followed with an RBI single to give Dayton a 3-2 lead.
After the next two batters struck out, Vasquez reached after getting hit by a pitch, and Gonzalez followed with a single to load the bases. Vargas then hit a two-RBI single to center field, and Friedl followed with a hard grounder to center field to score two more runs and give Dayton a 7-2 lead.
Dragons tales: Vargas hit his first home run of the season in the seventh inning by driving a fastball up the middle to left field. Vargas entered Saturday’s game with the team’s lowest batting average (.158), but he went 3-for-5 with three RBI’s.
• Stephenson had a good night at the plate to keep his hot streak going. He was 1-for-2 and had three walks. He has hit .321 over his last 21 games.
• A night off didn’t appear to help Brantley Bell. Bell had hit .361 over his last 23 games before getting Friday night’s game off. He went 0-for-5 (including two strikeouts) on Saturday before drawing a walk in the 11th.
On deck: The Dragons are off on Sunday and will travel to South Bend on Monday for the first of a three-game series against the Cubs. The Cubs (23-12) are currently in third place in the Midwestern League Eastern Division, a game and a half behind the Dragons. West Michigan (24-12) is in second.
Scott Moss (4-1, 2.50 ERA) is scheduled to start Monday’s game, as is South Bend’s Tyson Miller (2-2, 4.24 ERA). Moss led the ML in strikeouts (51) entering Saturday’s action.
The Dragons will have early wake-up calls during their series with the Cubs. Both Tuesday and Wednesday’s contests are scheduled for 10:35 a.m. starts due to “Education Day” promotions, in which South Bend-area schools take field trips to the ballpark.
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