After dropping eight straight, the Dayton Dragons won their second in a row Tuesday night.
Dayton’s latest victory came with some extra-inning heroics courtesy of third baseman Leandro Santana, who hit a walk-off double to secure a 4-3 win for the Dragons over the Great Lakes Loons at Fifth Third Field.
Batting cleanup in wake of Stuart Fairchild’s promotion to Daytona after the Midwest League’s All-Star break, Santana blasted a ball over center fielder Josh McLain’s head to give the Dragons the come-from-behind win in the bottom of the 10th.
Jose Garcia set up the inning with a bunt attempt aimed at moving Raul Wallace over from second base. Wallace started the inning on second because of a new rule in Minor League Baseball introduced at the beginning of the season.
A throwing error by Loons pitcher Yeison Cespedes allowed Wallace to score, tying the game at 3.
It wasn’t the only time Great Lakes hurt itself.
The Dragons’ struggled to get much going offensively until John Sansone doubled in the seventh. A wild pitch from Loons’ reliever Connor Strain moved him to third. Mark Kolozsvary and Mitch Piatnik struck out, opening up the possibility Sansone would be stranded at third.
The Loons offered a helping hand in the form of another errant offering from Strain, which allowed Sansone to score, giving the Dragons a 2-1 lead.
“That’s baseball. It can work opposite the opposite way, too,” said Dragons starter Andrew Jordan. “You could given up, or have gotten 10 runs tonight. Sometimes you don’t have your A game but you find chance to win.”
Jordan was effective in his first start of the second half, going six innings while striking out four and only allowing one run and one walk. His ERA dropped from 4.19 to 3.86.
Moving forward, Jordan said he’ll continue to seek consistency in his pitches, something manager Luis Bolivar echoed.
“He just needs to keep working on his stuff and trusting himself. He’s got a good fastball, so keep developing his fastball and commanding his breaking pitches,” Bolivar said.
As for Santana, Bolivar said there will be more opportunities for the 21-year-old to hit clean-up as long as produces.
Santana was batting just .222 (.639 OPS) entering the contest, but Bolivar noted he’s been better over the last few weeks. Santana is batting .286 in June.
“Absolutely I can see him more often [batting cleanup],” Bolivar said. “If he keeps delivering.”
The Dragons improved to 2-5 in the second half, while the Loons dropped to 0-6.
Dragons tales: Great Lakes catcher Darrell Miller Jr. comes from an athletic gene pool with a top-shelf resume.
Miller’s father, Darrell Miller, was a ninth-round pick of the California Angels in 1979. He made to the big leagues from 1985-1989. He’s also the nephew to a pair of basketball Hall of Famers in Reggie and Cheryl Miller.
The Royals traded him to the Dodgers March 30. Miller made his debut with the Loons June 12.
Interestingly, Miller went undrafted coming out of UCLA. He missed the entire 2016 campaign due to injury. He signed a minor league contract with Kansas City in February 2017.
He rewarded the Royals by batting .376 and winning the Pioneer League’s batting title last season.
Miller was 2-for-4 with two RBIs in defeat.
Next game: Hunter Greene (1-6, 5.13 ERA) takes the mound for the Dragons on Wednesday after a stellar start to the second half. The hard throwing righty took a loss in his last outing, but pitched into the seventh inning, marking the longest start of his pro career.
Andre Jackson (0-1, 3.03 ERA) will pitch for the Loons.