All looked well for the Dayton Dragons Tuesday night at Fifth Third Field against league-leading South Bend.
Drew Cisco was dealing, the Dragons’ bats were alive and Tanner Rahier’s three-run bomb had given the hosts a 8-1 lead.
Then the bullpen took over.
Over two innings, three Dayton relievers combined to allow eight runs on five hits and three walks to turn a feel-good win into a bitter 9-8 defeat.
“We were having a beautiful night and then the collapse came,” Dragons manager Jose Nieves said after his squad fell to 22-29. “When you have a huge lead, you have to fight to preserve it. That is something to think about for whoever is in the pen tomorrow.”
Everything fell apart in the seventh inning. Jesus Adames retired the first two hitters before allowing a single, a double and three walks before being pulled with two on and three in. Four pitches later, Austin Satler watched his 2-1 pitch sail over the fence in left-center and the lead was down to 8-7. Four batters into the eighth, the Silver Hawks pushed across their ninth run for their first lead of the night.
Dayton had the tying run in scoring position in the eighth inning, but couldn’t push him across in losing a game in which they had a seven-run lead for the first time in franchise history.
The bullpen blow up wasted another strong performance from Cisco, who allowed one run on seven hits and one walk while striking out seven through six innings.
“What a waste of a great outing by Cisco,” Nieves said. “He battled through some command issues early and found his way to throw quality pitches.”
Dayton newcomer Brandon Dailey recorded his first hit in a Dragon uniform, a two-out double in the second that scored Brent Peterson for a 2-0 lead. Joe Terry added a solo home run in the third and Rahier’s three-run blast in the fifth gave the host a 8-1 advantage.
Then, it all went downhill.