DAYTON – Dragons manager Luis Bolivar figured it was going to be a pitcher’s duel Sunday at Fifth Third Field.
Dayton had Midwest League wins leader Scott Moss going while Fort Wayne countered with ace Logan Allen and his 1.54 ERA.
“We knew it would be a close game with how he’s been throwing and how Scott has been throwing,” Bolivar said. “We knew we had to manufacture runs because of how good the pitching was going to be.”
Dayton manufactured enough runs to finish off the home stand with a 4-2 win over Fort Wayne in front of 8,351 fans.
The Dragons managed the first run in the third on back-to-back singles by Hector Vargas and T.J. Freidl, a sac bunt and a sacrifice fly by Taylor Trammell.
Trammell added a RBI double in the fifth and Freidl a solo shot in the seventh for a 3-0 lead.
Fort Wayne scored twice in the eighth on one hit, but Bruce Yari drove in the final run of the game.
Freidl finished a double shy of the cycle, opening the first with a triple to go with a single in the third and the homer in the seventh. Meanwhile, Moss allowed a leadoff single in the first, and nothing else in going six innings, striking out six and walking two.
“Scott was attacking hitters and working both sides of the plate,” Bolivar said. “T.J. went to the plate with a good approach and really looked good.”
Dragon tales: With the win Sunday, the Dragons finished the 10-game home stand 5-5.
Dayton had to win the last two games to assure a .500 homestand after losing back-to-back games at home for just the first time since April 6-7.
Playoff picture: The race for the MWL first-half playoff spots are heating up as teams enter the final two weeks.
West Michigan (38-18) is in the driver’s seat in the Eastern Division, despite losing to Lansing for the second straight day. Lansing scored three in the top of the ninth to defeat the Whitecaps.
Dayton and South Bend are in a battle for the final spot, with the Dragons hanging on to a one-game advantage with a magic number of 13 to clinch a playoff spot.
South Bend scored once in the eighth and ninth do defeat Lake County 5-3.
Dayton has 14 games remaining, while West Michigan and South Bend will both finish one game shy of 70 due to cancellations in May.
The Dragons have just four of their final 14 at home, while West Michigan has seven home and six away, and South Bend has nine of its final 13 at home.
West Michigan has the toughest remaining schedule with the opposing teams having a combined record of 117-100. Dragons’ opponents are 113-106, while South Bend’s remaining schedule is the easiest (101-115).
Siri back: Dragons outfielder Jose Siri returned to the lineup on Sunday after serving his three-game suspension from the benches-clearing brawl last week at Fifth Third Field with West Michigan.
Siri was back in center field and hit second against Fort Wayne with Friedl moving to right and Taylor Trammell in left.
While going 0-for-3 at the plate, Siri made a huge play in the third inning, making a leaping catch into the wall in dead center to end the inning.
Prior to the suspension, the outfielder from Monte Plata, Dominican Republic, was one of the hottest hitters in the MWL, hitting .469 over his last nine games with three home runs.
Dayton was 1-2 during Siri’s suspension.
MWL leader Moss: The Dragons lefty added to his MWL lead strikeouts while remaining in the top spot in wins.
Moss, a University of Florida product, recorded six strikeouts to push his total to 74 while recording his eighth win.
On deck: After an off day on Monday, the Dragons embark on a seven-game road trip.
Dayton will play three games in Lansing before traveling to West Michigan for a huge four-game series.
Wennington Romero returns from his suspension to take the hill Tuesday in Lansing.
The lefty from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, enters with a 3-1 mark with a 2.83 ERA.
Dayton returns home on June 13 with a doubleheader against Great Lakes with the first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m.