The raindrops could not keep the fans away on Friday night as a crowd of over 5,800 came out for a Fireworks Friday at Coveleski Regional Stadium. They witnessed a hard-fought extra-inning game as the South Bend Silver Hawks (24-13) fell 4-3 to the Dayton Dragons (14-26) in ten innings in the opener of a five-game series. First baseman Seth Mejias-Brean ripped a 3-1 offering from Silver Hawks reliever Frank Santana (4-1) into the left field seats with two outs in the top of the tenth inning for the game-winning home run.
Dayton, the Class-A Affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, got on the board early with three runs in the top of the first inning. Shortstop Zach Vincej led off the game with a line drive single to center field. After Vincej stole second base, Mejias-Brean grounded a base hit up the middle to bring him home, giving the Dragons a 1-0 lead. Left fielder Jesse Winker was the next batter and he lofted a fly ball to left field that just cleared the wall thanks to the 10 knot wind for a two-run home run and a 3-0 lead.
South Bend got a run back in the bottom of the second inning. Left fielder Alex Glenn hit a high bouncer off the turf that went over the head of the Dragons first basemen and down the right field line for a leadoff double. First baseman Carter Bell then hit a ground ball under the glove of Dragons second baseman Robert Ramirez for an error that scored Glenn.
Hawks starter Brad Allen settled in after the first inning as he held the Dragons scoreless through his last six innings. He worked out of jams with two runners on base in the second and third innings but faced no trouble otherwise the rest of the night. Allen finished his start by retiring the last nine batters he faced. He struck out six Dragons over his seven innings of work.
South Bend, the Class-A Affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, helped out the Dragons by running themselves out of two innings. With two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, center fielder Breland Almadova dropped a base hit into left field. Shortstop Kevin Medrano was up next and he turned on a pitch from Cisco and hit it deep to right field off the wall. Almadova tried to score on the play, but was nailed at the plate. Right fielder Jeff Gelalich fielded the ball cleanly off the wall and Ramirez atoned for his earlier error with a strong throw to the plate for the 9-4-2 putout.
Poor baserunning again plagued the Hawks in the bottom of the seventh inning. Glenn led off the inning with a single to left field off Dragons reliever Jesus Adames. After two fly outs to center, designated hitter Mike Lang doubled down the right field line. Unfortunately, Glenn went too far around third base and was caught scrambling back to the bag 9-6-5 to end the inning.
The Hawks tied the game up in the bottom of the eighth inning off Adames and Sean Lucas (1-1). Almadova led off the inning with a line drive single to center. Shortstop Kevin Medrano then walked to put runners at first and second with nobody out. Lucas entered the game for the Dragons to face Hawks second baseman Fidel Pena. Pena fouled off two sacrifice bunt attempts but then laced the 0-2 pitch down the left field line, scoring Almadova and moving Medrano to third base. Lucas then got right fielder Socrates Brito to hit a shallow fly ball to left that was not deep enough to score Medrano. After third baseman Brandon Drury was intentionally walked to load the bases, Glenn tied the game with a sacrifice fly to right that scored Medrano. A scoreless ninth inning followed to send the game to extra innings, setting the stage for Mejias-Brean’s game-winning homerun in the top of the tenth.
The series continues with a twin bill on Saturday evening. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05pm with Sal Romano (3-3, 2.93 ERA) for the Dragons vs. Jesse Darrah (3-2, 3.86 ERA) for the Hawks in Game 1. The double dip will start 30 minutes after the conclusion of Game 1 and feature Wandy Peralta (0-4, 5.87 ERA) vs. JR Bradley (2-3, 8.00). This will be Bradley’s first start of the season for the Hawks. Come early as the first 500 women 18+ receive pink Silver Hawk replica jerseys for Pink at the Cove Weekend. It’s also Flatscreen Saturday as the Hawks will give away a 39 inch flatscreen TV each inning.