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Dayton’s Hudson back behind plate after injury

Dayton Dragons catcher Joe Hudson was looking for a little excitement — a search he’s been on for the past year.

Hudson’s single in the eighth inning helped Dayton defeat Bowling Green 6-3 on Saturday. His shot over the fingertips of the Hot Rod infield scored Jesse Winker, who had driven in Seth Mejias-Brean to give Dayton the lead. It was part of a four-run inning that gave Dayton the lead and the win.

“A moment like this, coming from behind and putting a little excitement in the blood, it gets us going — it gets me going,” Hudson said. “I love competing and I love the game of baseball more than you’ll ever know.”

The 6-foot-1 catcher from Tampa starred at Notre Dame in college. He was drafted in the sixth round last year, and was ready to make his way through the Reds organization after the draft in June. Things didn’t quite work out as planned.

“In an intrasquad game the first day, my first at-bat, I got drilled by a pitch,” Hudson said. “It hit me in the wrist and it broke and I was out for the summer. My last meaningful game before this season with the Dragons was when I was in college.”

Hudson missed an entire season at Billings in Rookie League, meaning he has been adjusting to pro ball in Dayton.

“He has handled it pretty well,” Dayton manager Jose Nieves said. “We were wanting to see if he would respond to having to play often and he has. He’s a good catcher and a good communicator.”

It’s a challenging experience. Hudson is handling a Dayton pitching staff that has a rotation full of prospects such as Robert Stephenson, Drew Cisco and Ismael Guillon.

“The pitchers respond well to him,” Nieves said. “But it’s tough. Night games, day games, sometimes pitchers are struggling and there are a lot of balls in the dirt. He has a responsibility to try and deal with this good, young staff. He needs to keep them settled and he’s been doing a pretty good job.”

Winker, who has seven hits in his last four games, went 2-for-4. Jeff Gelalich stretched his hitting streak to eight games when he led off the eighth with a single.

Stephenson pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits with seven strikeouts and three walks. He struggled with control at times and had three wild pitches.

Bowling Green starter Sean Bierman allowed no hits until the fifth when outfielder Junior Arias sent a towering shot careening off the net deep in the left field corner above the walkway. Robert Ramirez scored on an error at first later in the inning to tie the game at two.

Tony Amezcua relieved Stephenson and pitched 2 1/3 innings, striking out five and walking one while allowing no runs or hits. Sean Lucas got the save pitching a perfect ninth.

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