After struggling against the South Bend Silver Hawks during the regular season, Daniel Guerrero came up big for the Dayton Dragons in Game 1 of their Midwest League first-round playoff series.
Guerrero pitched eight dominant innings Wednesday as the Dragons posted a 3-1 victory over the Silver Hawks.
Guerrero (1-0) gave up a run on four hits and a walk with five strikeouts in his longest outing this season. He made it look easy at times, retiring 14 straight batters after a leadoff single in the first.
The 22-year-old right-hander struggled in four previous starts against South Bend, going 0-1 with a 7.15 ERA over 11 1/3 frames. Silver Hawks pitching coach Wellington Cepeda noticed a difference in Guerrero this time.
"His control was outstanding," Cepeda said. "He did a great job mixing up his pitches, keeping our hitters off-balance. He changed himself up from our scouting report and pitched backwards, since he had good command of his changeup. During the season, we drew the most walks and got him to throw the most pitches against us, but pretty much for every inning, it seemed like he was in and out in 10 pitches or less."
Marcos Mateo pitched around two hits in a scoreless ninth to close out the win.
Dayton took a 2-0 lead in the second when Juan Francisco led off with a single and Brandon Waring and Carson Kainer hit back-to-back RBI doubles. Todd Frazier added a run-scoring double in the third.
Silver Hawks starter Tony Barnette (0-1) surrendered three runs on six hits and a walk over eight frames. After giving up Frazier's double, He retired 15 of the final 17 batters he faced.
South Bend scored its run in the seventh when Brad Miller singled, went to third on Steve Mena's double and came home on Richard Mercado's sacrifice fly.
Though dropping the first game at home is a tough blow, Cepeda is confident his team can come back on Thursday at Dayton's Fifth Third Field.
"Yeah, it's big [losing the first game], but these guys are able to rebound quick," Cepeda said. "We're just going to have to go down to their park tomorrow and start all over again."