Dayton Dragons centerfielder Michael Siani watches his bunt attempt fly into the air during their game against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers on Friday night at Fifth Third Field. The Timber Rattlers won 4-2. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER
Photo: Michael Cooper
Photo: Michael Cooper

Wisconsin pitching staff stifles Dayton in 4-2 victory

For the second straight night, the Dayton Dragons offense couldn’t figure out the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers pitching staff.

Dayton’s Pabel Manzanero had two RBIs, but the Timber Rattlers took an early lead and held on for a 4-2 victory over the Dragons on Friday night in front of 7,942 fans at Fifth Third Field.

“It was a tough one,” said Dayton manager Luis Bolivar. “We just couldn’t score runs.”

Dayton (37-53 overall) dropped its second straight game and fell to 8-13 in the second half. They’re currently six games back of first place Bowling Green (14-6).

Manzanero went 2-for-4 with a double and a home run, his ninth of the season. Michael Siani went 2-for-5 and swiped his 25th stolen base of the season.

Jesus Lujano, Thomas Dillard and Kekai Rios each had two hits for the Timber Rattlers (44-46, 13-8 second half) which jumped out to a 4-1 lead and never looked back.

After beating Wisconsin 6-2 in the first game on Wednesday, the Dragons scored just two runs in the final two games of the three-game series. Dayton was 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left eight runners on base for the game, despite eight hits in the game.

“We just couldn’t square the ball up,” Bolivar said. “We had eight hits, but they were all spread out. We couldn’t get a big rally together and a big hit never came. It was two tough nights in a row.”

Dragons starter Lyon Richardson pitched three innings, allowing one earned run with three strikeouts and two walks. Eddy Demurias also allowed one earned run in three innings of work, while Jerry D’Andrea pitched three scoreless innings, allowing

“Pitching-wise, those guys held the game right there and gave us a chance,” Bolivar said. “We had a big inning in fifth, but couldn’t advance the runners and couldn’t get a big hit there. We’ll keep working on it and see if we can come through later on.”

Wisconsin scored a run in the first inning, but Dayton tied the score on an RBI double by Manzanero.

The Timber Rattlers would score runs in both the second and third innings and added another insurance run in the sixth inning.

Claudio Finol and Randy Ventura singled to open the fifth inning, but Siani’s bunt attempt saw Finol forced out at third base. Miles Gordon followed with a strikeout. After Jay Schuyler walked to load the bases, Manzanero grounded out to third base to end the threat.

Wisconsin’s Logan Gillaspie allowed one earned run in the first inning, but threw five scoreless innings with four strikeouts. Robbie Hitt pitched a scoreless seventh inning and Gillies struck out the side in the ninth inning to earn his second save of the season for the Timber Rattlers.

Manzanero’s home run in the eighth innings cut the Dragons deficit to 4-2, but Dayton couldn’t get any closer. In his last 10 games, the 2019 Midwest League All-Star is hitting .381 with two home runs and seven RBIs

“He’s swinging the bat pretty good, squaring the ball up,” Bolivar said. “He’s aggressive and ready to hit every at-bat. He’s seeing good results with that so he’s sticking with it.”

With two outs and two runners on base in the seventh inning, Siani tracked down a gap shot in center field to keep the Dragons in contention — one of many spectacular defensive plays he’s made this season.

“He’s a guy you want to have out there,” Bolivar said. “It’s fun to watch every night. Every ball hit in center field, you’re confident he’s going to get to it. He’s very exciting player to see out there.”

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