Whitecaps end Dragons’ six-game winning streak

What’s been great for the Dayton Dragons during their six-game winning streak — pitching and defense — took a hiatus in the ninth inning Wednesday night.

West Michigan’s six-run ninth inning in its 6-3 victory at Day Air Ballpark stings like all losses, but the Dragons have been a resilient bunch this season dealing with close losses.

“It is what it is,” Dragons manager Bryan LaHair said. “We played a really good game up until the ninth.”

The Dragons (23-24) turned the game over to reliever Vin Timpanelli in the ninth with a 1-0 lead. Timpanelli’s previous two outings were scoreless last week in South Bend and he earned the save both times.

But this time West Michigan (27-20) got a bloop single by Christ Meyers and a home run by Brady Allen to start the inning and cost the Dragons the lead. Timpanelli got the next two batters out before walking Josh Crouch. Then Austin Murr hit a ground ball that shortstop Edwin Arroyo fielded on the first-base side of second and threw away to first for an error to keep the inning alive.

Instead of the Dragons going to the bottom of the ninth down a run, Roberto Campos hit a two-run single and Jace Jung hit a two-run homer for four unearned runs.

“It wasn’t his night, but he’s been great,” LaHair said of Timpanelli.

The unearned runs were the most costly because the Dragons scored twice in the bottom of the ninth. Justice Thompson tripled in a run and scored when an errant throw to third went into the dugout.

Despite the loss the Dragons are playing winning baseball and getting great pitching. During the six-game streak the team ERA was 1.33 and the opponents’ batting average was .169. Entering Wednesday’s games, the Dragons ranked third in the Midwest League in ERA (3.52), second in batting average (.210), third in walks allowed and first in walks and hits per inning (WHIP) at 1.15.

“Since the start of the season they’ve been pretty focused on what they need to do to improve and grinding away at that,” pitching coach Todd Naskedov said. “Kind of seeing it all come together at the same time. We’ve had a little bit of luck, and it’s been a nice little streak, so hopefully we continue to pitch well.”

Chase Petty struggled with some pitches in the dirt in the first inning, but his command was back to normal over the next three innings and he left after four with a 1-0 lead on Austin Hendrick’s RBI single in the fourth.

Petty, a first-round pick by the Twins in 2021 and the Reds’ No. 6 prospect, continues under a strict pitch limit since coming back from an elbow injury. He threw 54 pitches, allowed four hits and a walk, and struck out eight. In four starts, he’s allowed one earned run and 10 hits in 12 innings and lowered his ERA to 0.56.

“His stuff moves quite a bit, he throws really hard, he’s very good at executing pitches and he’s a good command guy for as electric as his stuff is,” Naskedov said. “Very sharp guy, learns well, very little ego, so easy to work with. I like pretty much everything about him.”

Arroyo three hits: Arroyo hit the ball hard three times Wednesday for two singles and a double for his second three-hit game. It was a good sign for the Reds’ No. 3 prospect. He was 2 for his last 25 and is batting .197 with a .247 on-base percentage.

“That was nice,” LaHair said. “I expect that though. That’s then hitter he is. When he gets three hits it doesn’t surprise me. He’s got a lot of talent, a lot of special gifts.”

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