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Dragons fall 5-4 on opening night
Dayton, Ohio -- The West Michigan Whitecaps battled back from a 4-2 deficit with two runs in the seventh inning and one more in the ninth to defeat the Dayton Dragons 5-4 on opening night at Fifth Third Field on Thursday. A crowd of 7,968 saw the Midwest League season opener for both teams.
West Michigan scored a single run in the top of the first inning before the Dragons answered with three in the bottom of the first. Daytons Beau Amaral was hit by a pitch to begin the rally and stole second. Amaral went to third on Jeff Gelalichs long fly out to center and scored on Phillip Ervins sacrifice fly to tie the game. Sean Buckley singled to left with two outs and Sebastian Elizalde drilled a two-run home run to right field to give the Dragons a 3-1 lead.
West Michigans Curt Powell delivered an RBI triple with two outs in the top of the fourth inning to make it 3-2, but the Dragons responded with a run in the bottom of the inning when Amaral doubled with two outs to drive in Joe Hudson from first base to make it 4-2.
The Dragons had a chance to extend their lead in the sixth when they loaded the bases with one out on a pair of singles by Hudson and Carlton Daal and a walk to Jamodrick McGruder. But Amaral struck out and Gelalich fouled out to third to end the threat.
West Michigan scored two unearned runs in the seventh, taking advantage of a throwing error by Daal, the Dayton shortstop, to tie the game at 4-4. In the ninth, West Michigans Jose Zambrano scored from third with one out on a wild pitch by Daytons Evan Mitchell to break the tie. The Dragons got a bunt single from Amaral and an infield hit by Ervin in the ninth but came up short in their comeback bid.
The Dragons nine-hit attack was led by two hits each by Amaral, Hudson, and Daal in addition to Elizaldes two-run homer.
Dragons starting pitcher Nick Travieso pitched well but was not involved in the decision. He worked six innings, allowing seven hits and two runs with no walks and three strikeouts. Mitchell was charged with the loss, allowing an unearned run in one and two-thirds innings.
The Dragons host the Whitecaps again on Friday night in the second game of the 2014 season. Sal Romano (7-11, 4.86 for Dayton in 2013) will start for the Dragons. Jonathon Crawford, the Detroit Tigers first round pick in 2013, will start for West Michigan. The game will begin at 7:00 p.m. at Fifth Third Field. The series continues Saturday night at 7:00 and Sunday at 2:00. All Dragons games can be heard on WONE Radio (980 AM) and via the internet at wone.com and through the Dragons Mobile App.
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