After hitting rock bottom with the Midwest League’s lowest team batting average of .217, things are starting to look up for the Dayton Dragons.
Third baseman Tanner Rahier’s second-inning home run — his first with the Dragons — is proof of that. Thinking he just stroked a double off the wall, Rahier watched at his shot sailed into the left-field bleachers for a two-run homer.
Left-fielder Jesse Winker added a two-run shot down the right-field line an inning later, helping Dayton to a 6-5 win over Burlington in front of 8,066 spectators at Fifth Third Field. The homers were the ninth and 10th this season for a Dragons’ offense that has pounded out nine or more hits in four of their last five games. Compare that to the previous 19 games where the Dragons had just six games with nine hits or more.
“We have a great group of guys. We can all swing it,” Rahier said. “We’re all just finding better pitches to hit, being more relaxed. I think it’s really going to come together.”
The offense picked up starter Drew Cisco (2-1), who had an uncharacteristic game allowing six hits and four runs in seven innings. Cisco, who entered the game tied for second in strikeouts in the Single-A Midwest League, finished with a season-low three. But he helped himself with his control. He allowed no walks, giving him just one walk in 33 innings pitched this season. Of the 80 pitches he threw Monday, 57 were strikes.
“Cisco didn’t have his best stuff today,” Dragons manger Jose Nieves said, “but he managed to beat you with quality when he needed to. The offensive support, that was pretty much the (difference) of the game.”
Dayton led 6-3 after three innings on the pair of two-run homers, Zach Vincej’s RBI single and Humberto Valor’s RBI walk.
As for Rahier’s home run, he signed the ball and gave it to the fan who caught it as a souvenir. He had something better waiting for him in the locker room — a text from his mom who was listening online.
“She said, ‘Good job, finally you got one.’ Getting my groove going,” Rahier said. “I was just looking for a good pitch to hit early in the count and got one.”
Burlington made it interesting in the ninth, scoring on an RBI single and putting the tying run on second with one out. Dragons reliever Bennett Klimesh struck out the final two Bees to end the game.
Cisco (2-1) earned the win and settled down after a three-run third inning and solo homer in the fourth. He retired 11 of the next 13 Bees he faced (one reached on error). Klimesh picked up his first save.
Burlington at Dayton, 7 p.m., 980-AM