When things go bad, they can quickly have a snowball effect.
Sunday at Fifth Third Field, it was more avalanche than snowball for the Dayton Dragons.
The Dragons botched two routine double play balls in the fourth inning, leading to six Fort Wayne runs in a 13-7 loss — their third in a row — to fall to 12-23.
“Being young is tough,” Dragons manager Jose Nieves said. “You don’t have the experience to realize that it is over and you have to think about the innings ahead. You can’t let something in the middle of the game impact the end of the game. You can’t progress if you are always looking back instead of looking ahead and that is the toughest part; to make them understand we play nine innings.”
Dayton starter Sal Romano allowed a single to start the fourth, but looked to escape unscathed when he induced a one-out grounder to second. Brent Peterson’s flip to second, however, was off the mark and rolled into left field. After a walk and a single scored the first run on the inning, No. 9 hitter Stephon Carmon hit a one-hopper back to Romano. Romano went home with the throw, but catcher Wagner Gomez lost the handle making the transition to throw to complete the double play, and the runner at home was called safe.
Jeremy Baltz crushed a two-run double to plate the last two runs of the inning for Fort Wayne and spell the end for Romano.
“Bases loaded, you are looking for a ground ball to get that double play,” Nieves said. “And it was there. Those six runs were key. It is something we could have worked out of, but they have to realize that and be able to overcome things.”
To make matters worse, the Dragons’ bats with runners in scoring position were on mute.
Dayton, which had scored at least nine runs in three of its last five games, pieced together nine hits on the afternoon, but had just two through the first five innings and went 4-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
“We are progressing with how we swing the bat,” Nieves said. “We are getting better at-bats, but sometimes they get caught up in going up there and wanting to be the hero. We are trying to get that connection with them to go and have good at-bats.”
Trailing 10-0, Dayton got on the board in the sixth when Jeff Gelalich and Jesse Winker recorded back-to-back one-out singles and Seth Meijas-Brean walked to load the bases. Tanner Rahier singled to score Gelalich, but Meijas-Brean was caught too far off second and Gomez flew out to right to end the inning with just one run crossing the plate.
The Dragons took advantage of a pair of walks and a Tincaps error in the seventh to cut the deficit to 10-6. But that was as close as they would get.
Dayton closes out the three-game set with the Tincaps tonight at 7 with Robert Stephenson on the mound.