It hadn’t always been pretty, but the Dayton Dragons had been finding a way.
After a disappointing first half, the Dragons entered Sunday’s showdown with South Bend at Fifth Third Field as winners in three of their last four games with a chance to move to .500 for just the second time this season.
So close, and yet so far away.
After a string of games in which every night someone different had stepped up to deliver a big late-inning hit to get the Dragons a win, Dayton managed just three hits — two from Tanner Rahier — in a 5-1 loss to the Silver Hawks to fall to 8-10.
“It has been like that all year,” Dragons manager Jose Nieves said. “We get close. There is no saying what is crossing their mind. They came out flat, there was nothing.”
Dayton’s best chance came in its final at-bat.
Sammy Diaz, Jesse Winker and Seth Meijas-Brean opened the inning with consecutive walks on 13 pitches. Rahier followed with a one-out single to score Diaz. But that was all they could manage.
“That was a perfect example,” Nieves said. “They had a chance to redeem themselves and couldn’t. I don’t know what their thought process was, but it was pretty bad.”
After yielding a lead-off single, starter Mike Saunders left the game with a 2-2 count on Socrates Brito with what is being called an “elbow strain.”
Saunders will undergo further testing today to determine the extent of the injury.
“It wasn’t something that was happening progressively, it happened on one pitch,” Nieves said. “He felt something weird, then some tingling and numbness. I am not sure what (tests) will show.”
Wandy Peralta came on for Saunders and gave up a single to Brito to score Fidel Pena. Peralta worked five innings of five-hit ball, striking out six.
Tony Amezcua and Kyle McMyne allowed the final four runs on seven hits in the eighth and ninth innings.
“(Wandy) threw really well,” Nieves said. “(He) came on in a pinch and his warm-up was on the mound. He was right on it. He got what we needed and did a pretty good job.”
Heading into their final at-bat, the Dragons had just two runners reach second base on the day.
Beau Amaral led off the first with a walk and moved to second on an errant pickoff attempt, but the next three Dragons went in order to leave him stranded. Meijas-Brean reached second when he singled on a ball to short when the throw sailed out of play, but the Dragons could not cash in.