Dragons pitcher Tony Santillan throws to first base during the fourth inning of a game against West Michigan on Monday at Fifth Third Field. Contriubted Photo / Bryant Billing

Dragons split series with Whitecaps; big series looms vs. South Bend

The Dayton Dragons may still be a game behind West Michigan in the Midwest League East Division standings, but their 4-2 win over the Whitecaps on Monday afternoon at Fifth Third Field puts them in decent shape for a playoff spot.

Dayton (33-17) is a game behind the Whitecaps (34-16) after splitting a four-game series , but the top two teams in the division after the first 70 games qualify for the postseason. Dayton has a two-game lead over third-place South Bend (31-19 ), which travels to Fifth Third Field for a three-game series starting on Tuesday.

“It’s a big ( series ) but these guys know every game is important,” manager Luis Bolivar said. “ These guys never give up and don’t put their heads down when things go bad. They’ve proven all year long they go after it.”

Game changer: Brantley Bell took a 3-2 pitch over the heart of the plate to right field in the eighth innin g to thwart West Michigan’s momentum.

The Dragons had a 3-0 lead after the fourth , but the Whitecaps scored once in each the fifth and sixth innings to stay in the game. West Michigan left two runners on base in the sixth and seventh, including one on third.

The Dragons got an insurance run in the eighth. Taylor Trammell walk ed to start the inning and advanced to second after John Sansone was hit by a pitch. After the next batter struck out, Bell hit a line drive to right to score Trammell.

With a runner on third in the ninth, Joel Kuhnel struck out the Whitecaps Cam Gibson to end the game.

Clean game : After the two teams brawled on Sunday night, Monday’s game went by without incident. Bolivar attributed that to the professionalism of his players.

“That’s huge for us for these guys to be able to come back and put that behind them and play well,” Bolivar said. “Every other time we’ve had bad things happen or we lose, they’ve put it behind them.”

Possible suspensions for the brawl could come down from the league office early this week.

Dragons tales: First baseman Bruce Yari hit his second home run of the series and put Dayton up 3-0 in the fourth inning on a solo shot to the lawn section in right field .

Yari, a left-handed hitter, joined the team on May 15 after being called up from extended spring training in Arizona. He has played in nine games and is batting .312 with five RBI’s.

“He’s been pretty good and sure to the ball,” Bolivar said. “He’s been able to hit lefties.”

Jose Siri was back in the lineup on Monday after being ejected from Sunday’s game. He went 1-for-3 and drew a walk.

On deck: Scott Moss (7-1, 2.60 ERA) is scheduled to start Tuesday’s game against South Bend. In his previous two games against the Cubs, he’s struck out 17 batters and allowed one run and seven hits in 11 innings.

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