Sunny days and Dayton Dragons victories have been rarities lately. Both happened Sunday, postgame music blared in the clubhouse and an eight-game losing streak ended.
Packy Naughton gave the Dragons a strong start on the mound, Stuart Fairchild hit a triple and scored on a throwing error on the same play and John Ghyzel was a ninth-inning hammer to lead the Dragons to a 4-3 victory over Fort Wayne.
“We’ve not been having the luck we’ve wanted lately,” outfielder Fairchild said. “Honestly, some games we haven’t played our best and some games have just been bad luck. That’s just how baseball works sometimes. But it’s good to get a win and get us back on track hopefully.”
Naughton (2-1) bounced back from his worst start this season when he allowed five runs in four innings in a loss at Lansing.
“It’s a learning experience having tough outings,” Naughton said. “I threw more strikes, I wasn’t as nit-picky as I was last start and it paid off today.”
Naughton, ranked the Reds’ No. 28 prospect by Baseball America, allowed a first-inning run before facing only 14 batters over the next four innings. He left with after six innings with a 4-3 lead and struck out eight.
“Packy set the tone,” Dragons manager Luis Bolivar said. “He came out aggressive, attacking the zone and went after them. The guys fed from that and they engaged in the game.”
Naughton benefited from a double play to end the first inning and another one in the sixth. With the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth, second baseman John Sansone turned a slick double play by himself and cut the rally short even though a run scored.
“It was awesome,” Naughton said. “It was exactly what I needed.”
What the offense needed was a big hit to get an early lead, which has eluded the Dragons (10-11, fifth place) during their losing streak that followed a nine-game winning streak. After Jose Garcia and Michael Beltre singled to open the third, Fairchild tripled over the right fielder’s head. The relay throw to third was errant and Fairchild bounced up from his slide and scored just ahead of the tag for a 4-1 lead.
“I knew I was getting to third once it got down, and then once I saw it get away I just dashed for home,” said Fairchild, who couldn’t remember the last time he’d been involved in a play like that.
After Cory Thompson pitched two scoreless innings, Bolivar called on John Ghyzel for the save. Like Naughton, Ghyzel’s last outing was at Lansing and resulted in two earned runs and his first blown save. This time Ghyzel struck out the side on 12 pitches for his fourth save.
“It’s tough as a late-inning guy because usually when you have a bad day you’re blowing a game, which is always terrible,” Ghyzel said. “But your teammates pick you up. You’re going to be mad for a while, but the quicker you can move past it the better your next outing will be.”
Ghyzel also showed more velocity than he has all season, topping out at 99 mph on his final pitch.
“The weather’s warming up, good crowd, tight game, adrenaline gets pumping — it’s fun,” Ghyzel said.
Especially when your team ends an eight-game losing streak.
Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.