Dragons' Stephenson solid but team falls short

DAYTON — All the flights finally connected for Robert Stephenson’s parents.

Originally set to fly into Billings, Mont., to watch their son play professionally for the first time July 26, they got a call from Stephenson telling them to cancel that flight because he was headed to Dayton.

Friday night, in his fifth Dayton start and first with his parents in the stands, Stephenson fought off a few nerves and threw five solid innings in absorbing a tough loss to fall to 2-1 as a Dragon as Dayton fell 5-3 to Lake County to close out the homestand at Fifth Third Field.

"I was a little bit nervous," Stephenson said after allowing one run and two hits while striking out five and walking three before hitting his pitch count of 70. "I’m happy with how I pitched. I gave up four runs in four innings (my last start) and got a no-decision. You could say I deserved a loss in that one; but I’m not unhappy with how I threw tonight."

The lone pitch the Reds’ top overall draft pick last year wished he had back was a 2-2 pitch that Lake County’s Bryson Miles hit down the line for a solo home run in the second inning. Stephenson ended his night striking out three of the final four he faced.

"I felt good about my last start and I definitely felt good about this start, I just made one bad pitch," Stephenson said. "In high school, I threw a complete game every time I threw. I was not regulated so it is a little different; I felt like I was just getting into it when I hit my pitch count."

While Stephenson was holding Lake County off the board, the Captains’ Mason Radeke was keeping the Dragons off the bases completely. Radeke allowed one hit in six innings while allowing one walk and striking out six.

"I expected us to come out and play a little better offensively," Dragons manager Delino DeShields said. "He (Radeke) was throwing something up there we couldn’t hit."

Lake County pushed the lead to 4-0 in the top of the seventh, an inning that began with an error and a walk followed by a triple and a double, and scored another in the eighth when Jerrud Sabourin eventually came home after stealing third while pitcher El’Hajj Muhammad held the ball on the mound.

"As a staff, we would like to see us not making the same mistakes at this time in the year that we did in the beginning of the year, but we are doing a lot of the same things and it is biting us in the butt," DeShields said. "We had an error and a walk and the guy stole third and no one said anything ... just lackadaisical on our part. Leadoff walks usually are a bad thing."
Dayton bounced back from the three-run Lake County seventh with three of their own as Jefry Sierra, Joe Terry and Yorman Rodriguez led off the inning with consecutive singles. Sierra scored on a fielder’s choice by Kyle Waldrop before Terry scampered home on a wild pitch, but the Dragons left two runners on and never threatened again, going in order in the eighth and ninth.

"It wasn’t a bad game," DeShields said. "Unfortunately at this level (momentum) is like that sometimes."

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