Silver Hawks sweep Dragons in doubleheader

South Bend, Ind. The Silver Hawks rode solid starting pitching and some opportunistic offense to sweep the Dayton Dragons by near-identical scores of 4-1 and 4-2 in Sunday afternoon's double header. Catcher Michael Perez's three doubles backed Jesse Darrah's six innings of one-run ball in Game 1. In Game 2, South Bend (50-30, 6-5) took advantage of some wildness from the Dayton (33-47, 5-6) bullpen to get the win for starter Blake Perry who allowed just one earned run in six and a third innings.

Game 1
After shaking off the rust from Saturday's rain-out, Silver Hawks starter Jesse Darrah (8-4) held the Dayton Dragons to one run en route to a 4-1 victory in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader. The newest addition to the Hawks roster, catcher Michael Perez, led the offensive attack as he belted three doubles and scored two runs.

The Dayton Dragons, the Class-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, got on the board first in the third inning. Center fielder Junior Arias hit a high hopper down the third base line that escaped the reach of Brandon Drury allowing him to reach on the infield single. After stealing second, Arias came around to score the first run of the game on designated hitter Jesse Winker's double down the left field line.

The Silver Hawks struck back in the fourth. Perez started the rally by knocking his second double to the left field wall. Center fielder Breland Almadova's placed a perfect bunt single down the third base line, coming to a stop in front of a host of Dragon onlookers and putting runners at the corners. Left fielder Alex Glenn then drew a walk off Dayton starter Drew Cisco (3-5) to load the bases. Designated hitter Mike Lang followed with a sharply hit grounder to second baseman Brent Peterson. Peterson was unable to corral the ball, allowing two unearned runs to score as Perez and Almadova crossed the plate. Shortstop Andrew Velazquez brought home another run as his single to center scored Glenn and gave South Bend a 3-1 lead.

Dayton threatened again in the fifth. Arias reached first after singling to left. Then, first baseman Seth Mejias-Brean followed with a grounder deep into the hole at short. Velazquez was able to make the stop, but on his attempt to get Mejias-Brean out at first, his throw sailed into the stands. The errant toss allowed Arias and Mejias-Brean to move up to third and second respectively. The rally was short lived as Darrah was able to get right fielder Daniel Pigott to fly out to right to close out the inning.

South Bend, the Class-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, added an insurance run in the sixth. Perez launched his third double of the day, this one to right. A sacrifice bunt by Almadova advanced Perez to third. With two outs, using his blazing speed, Lang was able to leg out an infield single to third, allowing Perez to score from third and putting the Hawks ahead 4-1.

After pitching six innings of one-run ball, Darrah gave way to closer Enrique Burgos (S, 7) in the seventh. With his fastball reaching into the upper 90's, Burgos made quick work of the Dragons. Burgos struck out the first two batters before getting Arias to pop out to end the game and seal the Hawks victory in Game 1.

Game 2:
After a dicey first inning, Hawks starter Blake Perry (5-3) settled in and shut down the Dragons for the remainder of the game for the 4-2 victory.

The Dragons got on the board early in the first. Second baseman Sammy Diaz drew his first of three walks off Perry on the day. After stealing second, Diaz came around to score on Winker's single to right. In his attempt to get Diaz at the plate, right fielder Socrates Brito's throw escaped the grasp of catcher Roidany Aguila. The E-2 fielding allowed Winker to advance to second. The error proved costly as the next batter, Mejias-Brean, laced another single to right to plate Winker and give Dayton a 2-0 lead.

South Bend cut into the Dragons lead in the second. First baseman Rudy Flores led off the inning with a walk off Dayton starter Mike Saunders. Center fielder Breland Almadova hit a sharp grounder to short that went in and out of Humberto Valor's glove to allow him to reach first safely on the E-6. A fly out to centerfield allowed Flores to move up to third and then score on Aguila's fielder's choice. Aguila grounded to third baseman Tanner Rahier and Rahier fired home in an attempt to get Flores at the plate. Rahier's throw was off target allowing Flores to score and Almadova to move up to third on the throwing error. Despite walking third baseman Carter Bell to load the bases with one out, Saunders was able to retire the next two Silver Hawks to escape the jam and retain a 2-1 lead.

Dayton threatened again in the fourth. Winker led off the inning with a double to the right field corner and then advanced to third on Mejias-Brean's fly-out to right. Brent Peterson entered as the new designated hitter for the Dragons, but Perry sat him down on strikes and then induced a groundout to end the Dragons' rally.

Tony Amezcua (2-1) entered in relief of Saunders in the fifth and his control and his defense let him down. With one out, shortstop Pedro Ruiz singled to center. Second baseman Fidel Pena followed by drawing a walk from Amezcua. At this point, the ball started to routinely find the backstop. Ruiz and Pena moved up to third and second respectively on a passed ball. Then on the second passed ball of Brito's at bat, Ruiz scored and Pena moved up to third. Brito hit a bouncer to second that went down as a fielder's choice as second baseman Diaz threw home in an attempt to get Pena at the plate. Diaz's throw was tardy, allowing Pena to score and give the Hawks a 3-2 advantage. However, the Hawks weren't done yet. After stealing second, Brito advanced to third on a wild pitch and then later came around to score on the third passed ball of the inning.

With the Hawks leading 4-2, the Dragons looked to make things interesting in the seventh. Rahier and catcher Brandon Dailey connected on back-to-back singles with one out. Perry's strong showing would not be wasted as Jose Jose (S, 1) closed the door on the Dragons by getting Valor to ground into a game ending double play. Valor grounded the ball to Bell at third, allowing him to step on third and fire across to first to complete the double play and preserve the Hawks victory.

The Hawks and Dragons will close out their three-game series on Monday night. First pitch is at 7:05pm. Nick Travieso (2-2, 5.57 ERA) gets the ball for Dayton while Brad Allen (2-4, 6.79 ERA) will start the game for South Bend. It is a Belly Buster Monday at the Cove so upgrade your ticket for a wristband that includes unlimited hotdogs, hamburgers, popcorn, and peanuts during the game.

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