There has been no burying the Dayton Dragons.
You can get to their starters, their bullpen, their defense — it doesn’t matter. Have a seven-run lead by the middle of the second inning? Don’t blink, because then it’s gone.
That’s what Dayton did to Wisconsin on Monday, firing back for a 10-9 victory and to win its fifth consecutive series.
Dayton scored three in the fourth and four in the eighth, then saved it with exceptional defense in the ninth. Beau Amaral picked a runner off second with a throw to shortstop Tanner Rahier for the second out. With two on, Parker Berberet drove a liner to left field and appeared to have broken Dayton’s comeback dreams. But a diving Jesse Winker snatched the ball, sending the Dragons home celebrating again after Winker won the game with a walk-off home run Sunday.
Dayton trailed 8-1 in the middle of the second. Wisconsin’s Victor Roache, who was the Milwaukee Brewers first-round draft pick in 2012 and led the NCAA in home runs his junior year at Georgia Southern, hit two home runs in the first two innings — the first a three-run shot just below the scoreboard in left, the second a grand slam that almost went the same distance.
Run-scoring doubles from Amaral and Joe Hudson helped Dayton climb back into it. Seth Mejias-Brean, who won a game on a walk-off grand slam the last series, hit a home run over the party deck in left center in the seventh. Coming into the game, he was hitting .535 over his last 11 games, the best average in all of professional baseball. He was 2-for-4 on Monday, also with a triple.
Dayton scored four more in the eight, including a sacrifice fly from Jeff Gelalich to tie it with the bases loaded, which set up Sammy Diaz to score on a wild pitch to take the lead.
Dayton, which had difficulty winning games late in the first half, has four-walk off wins in the second and won another two in the eighth inning.
“It’s unbelievable, especially after today,” Winker said. “We managed to get one or two every inning, the big blast from Mejias-Brean sparked us, then we got the bases loaded and that was huge.”
Dayton starter Sal Romano lasted 1 2/3 innings, allowing eight earned runs. But relievers Tony Amezcua, Joel Bender and Wandy Peralta allowed only three hits and one run the rest of the game.
“It’s amazing when you see things working like this collectively,” Dayton manager Jose Nieves said. “Good things have been happening.”