In his first two starts this season, Dayton Dragons pitcher Jhon De Jesus had been as dominant as anyone in the Midwest League, pitching 10 straight scoreless innings.
On Tuesday night, it was one bad inning that cost De Jesus and the Dragons.
Dayton’s Mariel Bautista and Bren Spillane each hit solo home runs, but the Dragons couldn’t overcome a four-run third inning from Fort Wayne, falling 8-4 to the TinCaps in front of 7,379 fans on Tuesday night at Fifth Third Field.
Bautista went 3-for-5 with two RBIs, Spillane went 2-for-4 and Jonathan Willems went 2-for-3 for the Dragons, who fell to 4-8 overall.
Bautista, the Dragons’ leadoff hitter, opened the scoring with a home run in the first inning.
With two outs and runners on first and third in the third inning, a wild pitch from De Jesus tied the score. TinCaps left fielder Grant Little followed with an RBI single and catcher Blake Hunt hit his first home run of the season to give the TinCaps a 4-1 lead it would never relinquish.
“It was a tough inning for De Jesus, who just lost his command there and lost a little bit of his rhythm there and it cost him,” said Dragons manager Luis Bolivar. “He almost got out of it. It was just one of those nights. He’d been so effective, but that’ll happen. You learn from it and move forward from it.”
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TinCaps lefty Ryan Weathers — the son of former Reds pitcher David Weathers — earned the win for Fort Wayne. He pitched 5⅔ innings, allowing six hits with five strikeouts.
Weathers, a first-round draft pick by the San Diego Padres in 2018, is currently the 90th-ranked prospect in the minors according to MLB Pipeline.
In 2008, an 8-year-old Weathers served as the Dragons’ batboy for two games while his dad pitched a rehab assignment. The team included multiple future big leaguers, including Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart.
Ryan Weathers returned to Dayton as a member of the opposing team on Tuesday night.
“It brought back a lot of memories,” Weathers said. “(My dad) played with the Reds for awhile and that’s where I remember most of everything. It brought back a lot of good memories. It was a lot of fun.”
Spillane smashed a 435-foot home run in the fourth inning, but the Dragons wouldn’t score again until the ninth inning.
Fort Wayne added runs in the fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth innings to take an 8-2 lead into the ninth inning.
The Dragons loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Claudio Finol hit into a double play to end the threat.
Dayton’s Shard Munroe opened the ninth inning with a triple and scored on a ground ball by Juan Martinez. Willems followed with a double and scored on a single by Bautista, but the Dragons couldn’t get any closer.
Bolivar was ejected in the fifth inning for arguing with the umpire after Bautista was called out on a stolen base attempt at second base. Bolivar was proud of his team’s comeback attempt in the final innings, he said.
“These guys keep fighting back and they battle out there,” Bolivar said. “That’s all we can ask for, give your best effort and keep competing every night until the game is over. We’re going to get better as the year goes along.”
● Entering Tuesday’s game, Munroe was hitting .417 in his last seven games, raising his average to .370 — ranking fourth in the Midwest League.
● Dragons center fielder Michael Siani is leading the league in stolen bases with seven. He got the day off on Tuesday.
● The Dragons begin a six-game, seven-day road trip to Lansing and Lake County on Thursday. Dayton returns home for a four-game homestand against Great Lakes beginning April 25.
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