Nightmarish ninth sinks Dragons against South Bend

Dragons outfielder Taylor Trammell takes a cut during Tuesday’s game vs. South Bend at Fifth Third Field. Nick Falzerano/Contributed photo
Dragons outfielder Taylor Trammell takes a cut during Tuesday’s game vs. South Bend at Fifth Third Field. Nick Falzerano/Contributed photo

It was one of those innings for the Dayton Dragons.

They led South Bend 2-1 heading into the ninth and appeared ready to move into a tie for first place in the Eastern Division of the Midwest League with West Michigan (a 8-5 loser to Great Lakes).

Then the Cubs sent 13 batters to the plate, with the first 10 reaching, as they hung eight runs on the board in a 9-2 defeat of the Dragons on Tuesday night at Fifth Third Field.

“Everything was good until that inning and then it got out of hand,” Dragons manager Luis Bolivar said. “Everything they hit found a hole and we didn’t get a break. It’s baseball and anything can happen. You just don’t want it to happen that late.”

The Cubs (32-19) had 18 hits. They got a break in the ninth when no outs were recorded on a grounder to first and a run scored. A throwing error then allowed another run to score.

“This is the first time it has happened,” Bolivar said. “Hopefully we can learn from it and come back and go again.”

The ninth inning was the latest in a crazy homestand that has included two losses in extra innings, a West Michigan player being ejected for contact with an umpire and a bench-clearing brawl that will likely bring suspensions.

Until the ninth unfolded, it looked like the Dragons were going to move to 14-1 in home games where they score first.

James Vasquez gave the Dragons a 2-0 lead in the fifth when he blasted a home run to right-center, but it was one of just three scoring opportunities on the night.

Scott Moss and Jesse Adams dodged danger for the first eight innings. A home run given up by Adams in the seventh South Bend’s lone run to that point.

“It really looked like that (2-1 lead) was going to be enough,” Bolivar said after the Dragons fell to 33-18. “Then that crazy last inning happened.”

Dragon tales: The series opener with South Bend was the second consecutive series with major implications in the MWL Eastern Division race.

The Dragons opened the series one game behind division leader West Michigan with South Bend sitting two games behind Dayton in third.

Dayton entered the series with a magic number of 18 to clinch one of the two first-half playoff spots.

The magic number remained 18, but the Dragons’ lead over South Bend was cut in half.

All three teams have 20 games remaining in the 71-game first half.

Santillan to DL: The Dragons placed starting pitcher Tony Santillan on the disabled list with tightness in his throwing shoulder.

The right-hander from Arlington, Texas felt the tightness during his appearance in relief of Tony Cingrani on Monday.

Santillan worked five innings to improve to 3-2, allowing four hits and two earned runs while striking out two and walking three. He is expected to miss his next start and return to the rotation.

Friedl on fire: Undrafted free agent T.J. Friedl has been making the most of his time in Dayton. Friedl entered Tuesday's game hitting .324 over his last eight games and ranks fourth in the MWL in extra-base hits with 24.

Friedl started in his natural position of center field Tuesday but has also started 12 games in left and 15 in right in addition to being the designated hitter six times. He leads the team with 47 games started.