DAYTON, Ohio - Midwest League All-Star Dustin May pitched 6.2 innings and secured a winning decision, while Oneil Cruz hit a three-run home run in the third inning to help lead the Loons to an 8-3 victory over the Dayton Dragons on Thursday night at Fifth Third Field.
The win salvages a four-game series split for the Loons (35-32), who took the first game and the last game in the four-game set. The Loons have not lost three straight ballgames since a five-game slide from April 27-May 2.
After a 30-13 start to the season, Dayton (40-37) is 10-14 in its last 24 games. That stretch includes four losses to the Loons.
The starting pitching matchup Thursday night featured two Midwest League All-Start. Righty Tony Santillan took the ball for Dayton. The second-round draft choice in 2015 mastered the Loons in two previous starts: 13 total innings with no runs and just four hits allowed.
In his third start against Great Lakes, the first two batters reached to begin the ballgame, and the lefty hitter Cruz set the tone with a three-run home run to the opposite field to give the Loons a quick 3-0 lead. It was the 18-year-old's fifth home run of the season, and his third to left field. The three-run blast was just the fourth of its kind for the Loons.
The Loons tacked on another run in the first inning, thanks to 19-year-old Eric Meza's RBI single. Dayton, however, in the heat of a Wild Card race in the Eastern Division, pulled within a run thanks in part to a home run barrage.
Nine-hole hitter Hector Vargas took May deep on the first pitch of his at-bat in the third inning, and left-handed hitter Taylor Trammel went deep in the ensuing inning to make the score 4-2 Loons. An RBI groundout from righty Brantley Bell later in the fourth made it a one-run game.
The Loons never lost the lead, and May continued to pitch into the seventh inning for the second time in his career. May, who does not turn 20 until September 6, took home the win after six hits and three runs allowed with one walk and six punch-outs.
Dayton's final surge occurred in the bottom of the seventh. With the Loons in front 5-3, Dayton loaded the bases with two outs, but Trammell's flyout to the left-field warning track availed the Loons and maintained the lead.
Great Lakes went on to score three more runs in the top of the eighth. An error on first baseman Bruce Yari brought in two runs, and the Loons batted eight men in the frame.
The final series of the first half begins Friday night in Bowling Green, Kentucky against the Hot Rods (Rays). It is the Loons first trip of the season to the Bluegrass State. First pitch from Bowling Green Ballpark is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. EDT.
The 2016 Midwest League Champions and hosts of the 2017 MWL All-Star Game presented by GoGreat.com have been a Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers since the team's inception in 2007. For tickets and more information about the Great Lakes Loons, call 989-837-BALL or visit Loons.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.