At 18 years old, Hunter Greene is playing his first full season of professional baseball.
As is the case with young players, there’s going to be hiccups.
Six days after Greene notched the best start of his Dragons’ career, the right-hander struggled through 3 1/3 innings as Dayton lost the first game of a doubleheader to the Great Lakes Loons 9-4 at Fifth Third Field on Friday.
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Great Lakes got after Greene’s fastball, which sat mostly between 96 to 98 miles per hour. On one occasion he broke 100.
“[My fastball] felt good tonight. That team was ready to hit some fastballs. It’s just how it is. I’ve got to learn from it and just keep competing,” said Greene, who is 0-3 with a 10.06 ERA this season.
Greene, who was on a 65-pitch count in his last outing, threw a season-high 72 pitches and allowed four earned runs. Four of the seven hits he allowed went for extra bases.
“It’s just gonna be like that,” Dragons’ manager Luis Bolivar said. “Hopefully he just takes a step and is more consistent in a good way. It’s just part of the learning experience.”
Bolivar said Greene had difficulty commanding his fastball over both sides of the plate.
Pitching mechanics may have played an issue.
“I didn’t have I guess the downhill angle that i wanted, so sometimes it was flatter over the plate a little bit,” said Greene, the Reds’ top pick and second overall selection in the 2017 MLB Draft.
Loons’ pitcher Leo Crawford, who had appeared in eight games this season across three different levels of the minors, made his first start in Dayton, confounding Dragons’ batters.
Second baseman Jeter Downs led the game off with a double, but Dayton wouldn’t collect its next hit until after a 55-minute rain delay in the bottom of the fifth, complements of Jose Garcia.
The Loons’ lineup packed plenty of punch. Jared Walker and Eric Peterson each collected three hits. Three other Loons’ had two hits.
Second baseman Marcus Chiu put the game out of reach with a three-run homer in the top of the fifth.
Dayton showed a little urgency in the bottom of the seventh with the help of Great Lakes pitcher Riley Otteson, who battled control issues in his third inning of relief.
With the bases loaded, he nearly hit Garcia in the head on what was ball four, allowing Michael Beltre to score.
Great Lakes brought in reliever Aneurys Zabala with two outs to face Downs, who kept the game alive with a liner that bounced off the top of shortstop Moises Perez glove, scoring John Sansone.
Dayton added one more run following a wild pitch from Zabala
Dragons 3, Loons 0
After a rocky start to the 2018 campaign, Tyler Mondile (1-3, 7.51) has compiled two strong back-to-back starts.
Mondile shut the Loons down in the second game of the doubleheader as the Dragons snapped an eight-game losing streak.
He allowed just one base runner through seven innings while striking out eight and allowing just one hit.
“He attacked the hitters and pitched well with good tempo there” Bolivar said. “He looked very good…and it’s a confidence boost for him for sure.”
Mondile, who entered the contest with a 9.19 ERA, said he never wavered from his confidence and credited pitching coach Seth Etherton with helping him get on track.
“Week in and week out, working with him has made me a way better pitcher than I was coming out of high school,” Mondile said.
Mondile got all the run support he’d need in the bottom of the second.
Hendrick Clementina hit a one-out double down the third base line and Miles Gordon drove him home with a single that Loons’ center fielder Brandon Montgomery had difficulty judging.
Leandro Santana drove in Gordon, extending Dayton’s lead to 2-0.