LaValley back in the fold for Dayton Dragons

Gavin LaValley is back in Dayton batting cleanup. The Dragons and their fans are happy to see him in a lineup that needs help even if it might not be for that long.

LaValley was expected to be playing for the Reds’ high Class A Daytona Tortugas in the Florida State League until he injured a hamstring in early spring training. He played his second game with the Dragons on Saturday night, but the swing is a bit rusty.

LaValley went 1-for-4 Saturday after an 0-for-3 with three strikeouts Friday night. He got his first hit in the ninth inning Saturday of the Dragons’ 7-4 loss to the Great Lakes Loons.

“Yesterday was probably the first time he’s been under the lights since last year,” Dragons manager Dick Schofield said.

Getting LaValley going until Daytona calls is something the Dragons could use. They are batting under .200 in their past 17 games. LaValley played in 125 games last season with the Dragons. He batted .267 with 53 RBIs, 29 doubles and four home runs.

“It comes off his bat a little different than other guys — it’s a grown man swinging it,” Schofield said of the 6-foot-3, 235-pound third baseman/first baseman. “Probably when he feels like it or whatever goes on at Daytona he’ll probably shoot up there.”

The sixth inning mirrored the frustration the Dragons’ offense has endured most nights. Two doubles and a single produced only run and left them trailing 3-2. Brantley Bell’s double ricocheted off the pitcher and out of play beyond the first-base dugout to score Mitch Trees. But Ed Charlton and LaValley struck out to end the inning. LaValley didn’t swing at strike three.

The Loons jumped ahead 3-0 in the second inning on a two-run double by Ariel Sandoval and an RBI single by Omar Estevez. They put the Dragons away with a three-run ninth capped by Matt Jones home run to straightaway center.

A two-run homer by Shed Long, his fourth of the season, was nice to see but didn’t change the result.

For starters: Both starting pitchers made the first starts this season as spot starts because recent rainouts. Jesus Reyes, who had allowed two runs in six innings of relief, made it through 3 2/3 innings for the Dragons. He allowed three runs on seven hits and three walks. The Dragons were hurt by two passed balls, two wild pitches and an error.

The Loons’ Garrett Harrison made his first professional start. He allowed one hit, an unearned run and struck out three.

Next: The Dragons conclude this seven-game homestand today at 2:07 p.m. with Austin Orewiler (0-2, 3.20 ERA) on the mound. Dennis Santana (0-4, 2.36) starts for Great Lakes. After an off day Monday, the Dragons start a road trip at Lake County, which entered play Saturday in a three-way tie for first place in the Eastern Division.