Sparks propels Dragons past Whitecaps

Taylor Sparks drilled a three-run triple to break a 4-4 tie and the Dayton Dragons went on to defeat the West Michigan Whitecaps 7-4 in the first game of a four-game series on Monday night.

The series between the Dragons and Whitecaps marks the final meetings of the regular season between the two clubs before they meet in the first round of the Midwest League playoffs beginning Sept. 6 in Dayton.

Hector Vargas’ two-run infield single and Cassidy Brown’s two-run double in the first gave the Dragons a 4-1 lead.W

West Michigan tied it in the top of the fourth before Sparks’ two-out, bases-loaded xx in the bottom of the inning but Dayton up for good.

Dragons starting pitcher Matt Blandino (3-4) earned the win. He worked the first five innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits with no walks and four strikeouts.

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Alex Webb replaced Blandino to start the sixth and closed out the game to earn his first career save. Webb tossed four shutout innings, allowing three hits with one walk and three strikeouts. Webb’s four-inning stint matched the longest of the year for a Dayton reliever, and it was his first outing of the season out of the bullpen after six starts.

The Dragons collected only six hits, but three of them combined to produce the seven Dragons runs. Michael Beltre was 2 for 4 with a run scored. Sparks had the triple, a walk, and three RBI. West Michigan had 11 hits, but they went just 2 for 10 with men in scoring position.

The teams meet again Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Fifth Third Field.

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