Daniel Watt’s (6-1) bid for his seventh straight victory fell short as the day belonged to Dayton’s starter, Robert Stephenson (3-3). Stephenson overpowered the Hawks, limiting them to four hits over seven innings, while striking out nine. His day would have been near flawless if it had not been for two homeruns from his arch nemesis, Roidany Aguila.
The Dragons jumped on Watts early, as they crossed the plate three times in the first inning. Right fielder Beau Amaral led off the game with an infield single between first and second base. Amaral advanced to second on a 3-1 groundout by Joe Terry and then quickly moved up to third on a throwing error by Watts on a failed pick-off attempt at second. After a walk to Jesse Winker, a double down the left field line by Seth Mejias-Brean scored Amaral for the first run of the game. Next in the box was third baseman Tanner Rahier. His 6-3 groundout scored Winker from third. The Dragons weren’t done yet, as center fielder Junior Arias belted a single to center to score Mejias-Brean and give Dayton a 3-0 advantage.
The South Bend Silver Hawks, Class-A Affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, struck back in the bottom of the first. Designated hitter Kevin Medrano led off the frame with a walk. Medrano advanced to second on a wild pitch and came around to score on a single to center by second baseman Fidel Pena.
Dayton started another rally in the fourth. Brent Peterson reached on a throwing error by shortstop Pedro Ruiz. After advancing to second on Amaral’s groundout to first, he crossed the plate as an unearned run on Terry’s RBI single to right. The 4-1 Dragon lead would not last long as Hawks catcher Roidany Aguila connected on the first of his two homeruns to left for the day.
The Dayton Dragons, Class-A Affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, added another run in the fifth. Arias doubled off the wall in left-center. Ramirez then smacked a single to center, bringing Arias around to score. Watts’ day came to an end after the fifth. In total, he gave up four runs on nine hits, while striking out two.
The Hawks cut Dayton’s lead to 5-3 in the seventh, thanks to Aguila’s second homer to left. However, the Dragons quickly retaliated off South Bend reliever Will Locante in the eighth. Catcher Joe Hudson hit a sinking line drive to right that went under the glove of a diving Socrates Brito allowing him to reach second with a double. Hudson then advanced to third on a 4-3 groundout by Peterson and scored on a single to center by Amaral. After getting into scoring position by stealing second, Amaral came around to score on Winker’s single to left. JR Bradley entered in relief for the Hawks and was able to shut the door on the Dragon’s rally before they could add to their 7-3 lead.
South Bend crossed the plate again in the eighth inning. Kevin Medrano led off with a walk. He then moved up to second on Pena’s single to right and went on to score on Carter Bell’s single to right. The Hawks had runners on the corners, but their rally was ended by Dayton reliever Austin Salter.
The Hawks threatened again in the ninth, scoring another run. Rudy Flores doubled down the right field line into the Hawks bullpen. Amaral picked up the ball in right and fired to third, but his throw sailed wide allowing Flores to grab another base. Flores then scored on Breland Almadova’s 5-3 groundout to bring the Hawks within two. However, Joey Housey (S, 1) closed the door on the Hawks, giving the Dragons a 7-5 victory.
Monday is a School Day at The Cove. The Hawks will wrap up the four-game series against the Dayton Dragons, beginning at 10:30a.m. Brandon Sinery (0-2, 2.37 ERA) will take the mound for South Bend. Ismael Guillon (1-4, 9.10 ERA) will start for Dayton.