Dragons Lose After Controversial Call in 9th
Dayton, Ohio-The South Bend Cubs scored two runs on a highly-controversial play with two outs in the ninth inning to come from behind and defeat the Dayton Dragons 5-4 at Fifth Third Field. The umpire's call, which led to the ejection of Dragons manager Jose Nieves, came on a potential game-winning double play by the Dragons.
The Dragons trailed South Bend 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth when Dayton's Narciso Crook blasted a two-run home run to give the Dragons a 4-3 lead, going to the ninth.
Dragons reliever Conor Krauss entered the game and gave up back-to-back singles to start the inning. Krauss then made a tremendous diving catch on a bunt play for the first out of the inning, but Jeffrey Baez followed with his fourth hit of the night to load the bases with one out. Gleyber Torres then hit a hard ground ball directly at second baseman Cory Thompson. Thompson fielded the ball and threw to second. Dragons shortstop Luis Gonzalez took the throw, stepped to the side of the bag, and fired to first in an effort to complete the game-winning double play. But Baez slid hard into Gonzalez and forced a poor throw to first base that skipped past first baseman Avain Rachal, allowing two runs to score and giving South Bend a 5-4 lead.
The Dragons argued immediately as Gonzalez stayed on the ground near second base. Replays showed that Baez was far outside the sliding area, could not have touched second base, and put both hands up in an effort to distract Gonzalez or prevent an accurate throw. Replays also appeared to show that the base umpire had turned to make the call at first base after Gonzalez stepped on second, and did not see the contact between the base runner and the Dayton shortstop.
Both umpires conferred for several moments but decided to stay with the original call of no obstruction on Baez, allowing both runs to score. Nieves was ejected after a heated exchange. It was the second straight night that Nieves was ejected by the umpiring crew.
The Dragons had a chance to tie or win in the bottom of the ninth, when Rachal walked with one out and Gonzalez walked with two outs. But Thompson grounded out to third base to end the game.
Dragons starting pitcher Tyler Mahle allowed three runs on four hits in the first inning, but recovered to go six innings without allowing another run. For the night, he allowed six hits and one walk with eight strikeouts.
The Dragons finished with seven hits. Aristides Aquino had two hits and two runs batted in. Paul Kronenfeld also had two hits.
The Dragons (17-19 in the second half; 56-50 overall) battle the Cubs (17-19, 46-57) in the last game of the set on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. at Fifth Third Field. Wyatt Strahan (6-7, 2.87) will start for Dayton against South Bend's Zach Hedges (5-7, 4.00).
All Dragons games are broadcast on radio on Fox Sports 980 WONE and on the internet at wone.com. Games are also available on the Dayton Dragons mobile app.
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