DAYTON, OH - On a night that featured a skunk delay, the Dayton Dragons (21-36, 42-85) rallied back from a late seven-run deficit to walk off the Lansing Lugnuts (28-29, 64-63), 11-10, on a Chris Okey RBI single on Monday night at Fifth Third Field.
The Lugnuts scored six runs in the top of the seventh inning in building a 10-3 lead, looking for a tenth win in eleven games against the Dragons in 2016.
But Dayton answered with five runs off debuting reliever Griffin Glaude in the bottom of the seventh, and then carved the deficit down to 10-9 on a Zach Shields RBI single in the eighth.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, a skunk emerged from near the grounds keeper's tarp beyond the Lugnuts' dugout on the first base side. Lugs defenders gave way as it scampered to second, wandered into right-center and explored the warning track before the grounds crew finally corralled it at the left-field fence.
With two outs, the Dragons made their move. James Vasquez tied the game with an RBI single to center off Dan Lietz (Loss, 6-3) and Okey followed with a game-winning liner into right-center.
Dayton right-hander Tanner Rainey (Win, 4-10) pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up the victory.
Coupled with the Great Lakes Loons' walk-off 4-3 win over Fort Wayne, the Lugnuts' lead for the Eastern Division wild card was trimmed back to a half-game.
Nine of the Dragons' eleven runs were scored with two outs.
Dayton starter Tony Santillan did not finish the first inning, facing all nine Lugnuts batters and allowing four runs on three hits and four walks. He was rescued by Lucas Beninati, who fired five one-hit shutout innings to keep the Dragons in the game.
Lansing starter Josh DeGraaf tied career highs with six innings and seven strikeouts, reached for only a trio of runs in the bottom of the sixth.
In the loss, Lane Thomas and Ryan Hissey each went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored, and Juan Kelly extended his on-base streak to 23 games with a walk, hit-by-pitch, RBI and two runs scored amid an 0-for-3 night.
The Lugs play the second in the four-game series with Dayton on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m., sending right-hander Justin Maese (1-2, 2.72) against Dragons southpaw Ty Boyles (5-8, 5.19).
The Lugnuts return home to Cooley Law School Stadium for a three-game series against the Bowling Green Hot Rods from August 31-September 2, the final homestand of the regular season. For more information or to purchase your tickets, call 517-485-4500 or visit lansinglugnuts.com.
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