Top picks power Dragons past Wisconsin

Monday night shone like Reds’ future stars night at Fifth-Third Field.

Nick Senzel, Chris Okey and Tyler Stephenson combined for 10 hits, four RBIs and five runs to lead the Dayton Dragons to an 8-3 victory over the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

The big three, along with key hits from Shed Long and Reydel Medina, stopped a three-game losing streak for the Dragons (30-64, 9-15 second half) to close the homestand 3-3. And starter Tanner Rainey kept the Rattlers (46-49, 12-13) down just enough through five innings.

“We’re hit and miss with offense, but tonight I’ll tell ya it was nice,” Dragons manager Dick Schofield said. “We’ve got to finish strong so the kids go into the offseason with a good feeling about it.”

The Reds drafted Senzel out of Tennessee as the No. 2 overall pick in June. He was 1 for 14 on the homestand until nearly hitting for the cycle Monday while batting third.

“I don’t think anything was different,” Senzel said. “I stuck with my same approach. I didn’t think I was swinging the bat terribly the first two games. In baseball that happens.”

Senzel lined an RBI triple to right to spark a three-run first inning, an RBI single to push the lead to 4-1 in the second and a two-run homer for an 8-3 lead in the sixth. He finished a 4-for-5 night with a single in the eighth.

“A very polished player with three years at a major university,” Schofield said. “He seems to be the real deal. It’s just his first half-season, but he’s looking real good.”

Senzel began his pro career at Billings, Mont., in the Pioneer League in June. After 10 games there, he was sent to Dayton where he is batting .322 in 15 games.

“It’s been fun finally getting to settle down in one place in Dayton,” Senzel said. “It’s been an exciting journey so far. I can’t wait to keep it going.”

Okey, a second-round pick out of Clemson in June, was behind the plate, batted fifth and finished the homestand 6-for-14 with two singles and two runs. Stephenson, also a catcher, followed Okey as the designated hitter and was 4-for-4 with a double and a run scored. Stephenson was a first-round pick last year.

Rainey night: Rainey, the Reds’ No. 17 prospect, continued his education as a starter. A first baseman and closer in college, Rainey (3-7) made his 32nd minor-league start. He was dominant at times with a fastball that topped out at 99 mph. He struck out four in five innings, but walked five and allowed two solo homers. He left with a 6-3 lead.

On the road: The Dragons head west for three games at Quad Cities and three games at Cedar Rapids. The starters at Quad Cities will be lefties Jacob Constante and Ty Boyles and right-hander Austin Orewiler.

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