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Dragons fade late in 7-3 loss

The last few weeks have been a constant roller coaster for the Dayton Dragons.

Hot one day, cold the next.

The Dragons rolled their Jeckyll and Hyde impersonation into one game Sunday at Fifth Third Field.

Dayton played five innings of solid baseball and four innings where the wheels fell off, allowing Lansing to rally for a 7-3 win.

“From the fifth inning on up, we were horrific,” Dragons manager Jose Nieves said. “In every facet of the game we were bad. We had bad base running, we misplayed some balls defensively, we had bad pitching and just overall poor execution.”

Early, it appeared the Dragons were going to be able to keep pace with West Michigan and South Bend in the Midwest League Eastern Division first-half playoff chase. The top two teams in the Eastern and Western Division qualify for the postseason. Dayton (28-27) is in third place, three games behind West Michigan and 5 1/2 behind South Bend.

Dayton’s Sebastian Elizalde led off the second with a double and scored on a triple by Phillip Ervin. Jon Matthews, fresh off the disabled list, singled home Ervin to begin a 3-for-4 day at the plate.

Matthews scored in the fourth on a single by Carlton Daal to give the Dragons a 3-0 lead.

Dayton was 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position over the final four innings.

“We did not capitalize when we could,” Nieves said. “We missed hit-and-run signs, we couldn’t get bunts down when we needed to…”

The loss spoiled a strong home debut for Nick Routt.

Routt threw five innings of no-hit ball before being touched up for a pair of runs in the sixth inning.

Lansing tied the game in the eighth before pushing across four runs in the ninth.

“Nick started to get tired and left the ball up,” Nieves said. “Still, we stayed ahead and could not hold the lead. When you come in from the bullpen and walk the first two, it is no good.”

Dayton will look to salvage a series win when they send Sal Romano (3-4) to the mound tonight at 7 to close a quick three-game homestand.

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