The Dayton Dragons have a seemingly endless supply of tricks up their sleeves and managed to come back for another victory Wednesday night.
Trailing the Lake County Captains 2-0 in the eighth inning, the Dragons showed some more late-inning magic at Fifth Third Field Wednesday night when left fielder Jesse Winker hit a three-run home run to center field. It was Dayton’s first lead in the game and the club’s 15th win in its last at-bat this season.
“I was just happy I could a productive AB together and help the team win,” Winker said after the game. “To come back and win, you have to stop a rally from the other team and that’s what we did in the top of the eighth. Everything fell into place and I got the pitch I waited for and put a good swing on it.”
Winker didn’t think his 16th homer of the season was going to make it over the fence, though.
“I actually thought … the center fielder got a heckuva jump, so I thought he was actually going to crash into the wall and make a great play,” Winker said. “I really thought he was going to catch it.”
Sal Romano started for the Dragons and pitched well in his six innings of work with three strikeouts and one walk. He gave up only one run on a solo home run down the right field line by Lake County left fielder Jorge Martinez in the third inning.
Dayton loaded the bases in the seventh inning before shortstop Zach Vincej struck out looking, second baseman Humberto Valor hit an infield fly to second and designated hitter Beau Amaral struck out swinging.
Lake County added another run in the top of eighth on a wild pitch by reliever Abel De Los Santos.
Reliever Alejandro Chacin pitched a perfect ninth and earned his fourth save of the season for the Dragons.
After Wednesday night’s win, the Dragons have 24 games left to clinch a playoff spot. Currently, the Dragons are four games back of the Bowling Green Hot Rods and two-and-a-half games behind the second-place Great Lakes Loons.
The Hot Rods and the Loons started a three-game series last night, but the result was after the paper had gone to print.
This gives the Dragons a chance to gain some ground, considering they still have six games left with Great Lakes.
Manager Jose Nieves said he isn’t looking ahead in the schedule. He just wants his players ready to go when they get to the ballpark to play whichever team is next.
“Right now, it doesn’t matter who you face, who you confront,” Nieves said. “Bottom line is we need to win those games. It’s not about facing Cedar Rapids or facing Beloit or Quad Cities. It’s not about South Bend or Bowling Green, who have the best records in the league. It’s not about that. You’ve got to win games. It doesn’t matter who the adversary is. You have to play to win in order to clinch.”
Chacin has been solid recently for the Dragons. In his last nine appearances, Chacin has thrown 11 1/3 innings while going 1-0 with three saves and 15 strikeouts. More importantly, Chacin hasn’t allowed a run since July 10.