The Dayton Dragons (64-62) and South Bend Silver Hawks (73-54) chipped away at each other Wednesday night at Four Winds Field. But in the end it was the Dragons who took the biggest chunks, winning 5-3. The Silver Hawks scored one run in each of the first three innings, but the Dragons had five one-run innings, scoring in the first, third, fifth, sixth and seventh.
The Dayton Dragons, Class-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, took the early lead in the top of the first off Hawks starter Blake Perry (L, 7-6). Designated hitter Jamodrick McGruder led off with a walk. First baseman Robert Ramirez then lined the ball just outside the reach of Marty Herum at first. With the ball rolling into right, McGruder raced around to third. However a great throw from Justin Williams in right was enough to get Ramirez at second as he tried to stretch his hit into a double. Center fielder Phillip Ervin followed with a bloop single to right to plate McGruder for the first run of the ballgame.
The South Bend Silver Hawks, Class-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, evened the score in the bottom of the first and then pulled ahead in the second. With one out, left fielder Chuck Taylor singled to shallow center and then advanced to second on a 4-1 ground out by third baseman Fidel Pena. Designated hitter Joe Munoz collected the RBI with his single to left as Taylor came around to score from second to tie the game at 1-1. The Hawks then took the lead in the bottom of the second thanks to a solo home run by second baseman Jamie Westbrook. Westbrook took a 2-1 offering from Dayton starter Nick Travieso (W, 12-5) over the fence with a tomahawk swing for a 2-1 South Bend edge.
Dayton knotted the score with another run in the top of the third. Second baseman Ronald Bueno led off with a walk. Bueno was replaced at first by McGruder after he was out at second on McGruder's fielder's choice ball to short. On Ramirez's single to shallow center, McGruder scampered around to third. Then Ervin single to right just over Westbrook's head to score McGruder and once again knot the score.
South Bend pulled back in front in the bottom of the third. With one out, Pena drew a walk from Travieso. During Munoz's at-bat, a wild pitch moved Pena to second. Then Williams singled to center, allowing Pena to score from second as the Hawks regained the lead at 3-2.
In what felt like déjà vu, Dayton tied the game up in the top of the fifth. After recording the first out, Perry issued a walk to McGruder. McGruder then advanced to second on shortstop Alex Blandino's single to right. Perry sat Ramirez down on strikes, but Erivn laced a double to left field to score McGruder. It was the third time McGruder scored on the night as it was a dead heat at 3-3.
The Dragons took the lead in the top of the sixth. Left fielder Jon Matthews led off the inning with a triple into the left-center gap. With one out, right fielder Jonathan Reynoso walked to put runners at the corners. The walk was one of six Perry issued on the night. Bueno then followed with a ground ball to Herum at first. Herum turned and fired to shortstop Andrew Velazquez at second in his attempt to start the double play. While Reynoso was forced out at second, the throw to first was tardy and Matthews crossed the plate for a 4-3 Dragon lead.
Dayton added another run in the top of the seventh off Hawks' reliever Tom Jameson. Third baseman Tanner Rahier launched the first pitch he saw into the home run porch seats for a solo homer and a 5-3 Dragon lead. That was all Dayton reliever Zack Weiss (S, 3) needed as he held South Bend scoreless over the last 3 1/3 innings. While he gave up three hits, his six strikeouts were too much for the Hawks to overcome.
The Silver Hawks head north to Lansing, Michigan, Thursday for three games against the Lansing Lugnuts, the Class-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Cooley Law School Stadium. Brent Jones (3-2, 3.05) will get the start for South Bend, and Jeremy Gabryszwski (6-4, 4.33) is set to take the mound for the 'Nuts.
The Hawks return to Four Winds Field on Sunday, August 24, to begin the final six-game homestand of the regular season. Sunday is the first of three games against the West Michigan Whitecaps, the Class-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. At the conclusion of Wednesday's games, South Bend trailed West Michigan by 3.5 games in the race for the best overall record in the Midwest League Eastern Division.
First pitch at Four Winds Field on Sunday is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. It will be Family and Swoop Troop Day. Bring your mitts for a pregame catch on the field, beginning at 1:15 p.m. Then come back down onto the field after the game for autographs from the Silver Hawks' players. Starting Sunday is the Silver Hawks Calendar giveaway! The first 1000 fans each night through the gates will receive a Silver Hawks calendar.