Former Wright State pitcher Caleb Sampen limits Dragons to one run in 13-2 Bowling Green victory

Bowling Green, Ky. – Former Wright State pitcher Caleb Sampen limited the Dayton Dragons to one run and one hit over five innings, and Bowling Green belted three home runs and capitalized on 11 walks, as the Hot Rods pounded out a 13-2 victory on Sunday

The two clubs split the first four games of the 2019 season.

It was Sampen’s debut in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. A 20th round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer, the right-hander was traded to the Rays in January for reliever Jaime Shultz.

A Brownsburg, Indiana native, Sampen earned 2016 Freshman of the Year honors in the Horizon League and was named to the Louisville Slugger Freshman team when he posted a 2.76 earned run average across 14 starts.

After missing the 2017 campaign following surgery to repair an ulnar nerve in his elbow, Sampen returned in 2018 on a pitch count. Still, he was impressive, finishing with a 5-0 record and a 3.26 ERA over 11 appearances and 47 innings. He limited opposing hitters to a .229 average and struck out 33 while walking 14.

In his two seasons at Wright State, Sampen went 14-4 in 26 games (21 as a starter) with a 2.92 earned run average, 90 strikeouts and 37 walks in 141.2 innings.

Sampen was eased into action by the Dodgers organization last year. In 13 games at Ogden (Utah), including 11 starts, Sampen registered a 5.04 ERA, a 1.31 WHIP with 43 strikeouts and nine walks in 30.1 innings.

Sampen’s five-inning outing against the Dragons was a career high. His previous longest stint was two innings. He struck out six and walked one.

The Dragons were limited to just two hits on the day, although they did hold a brief lead in the first inning. Dayton’s Michael Siani opened the game with a single to center field, stole second and third, and scored on Mariel Bautista‘s sacrifice fly to give the Dragons a 1-0 lead.

But Bowling Green’s Connor Hollis hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the first, and Grant Witherspoon hit a two-run shot in the fifth as the Hot Rods built their lead to 5-1.

The Dragons scored in the sixth on Bautista’s second sacrifice fly of the day to make it 5-2, but Bowling Green responded with four runs in the seventh to take a commanding 9-2 lead. Osmy Gregorio hit a two-run homer in the inning for the Hot Rods. In the eighth, Dragons pitchers combined to issue six walks to tie a club record set in 2009. Utility infielder Dylan Harris, in the lineup as the designated hitter, entered the game to pitch to finish the inning, allowing the last of the six walks.

Dragons starting pitcher James Marinan (0-1) was charged with the loss. He worked four innings, allowing three runs on eight hits with one walk and four strikeouts. Julio Pinto followed Marinan and gave up two runs in two innings of work. Connor Bennett worked an inning, surrendering four runs on three hits and three walks. Andy Cox struggled with his control in two-thirds of an inning, allowing five walks and four runs.

Mariel Bautista had a double and two runs batted in to lead the Dragons offense. Bautista has at least one hit in each of the Dragons first four games and is batting .429.

Up Next: The Dragons (2-2) travel to Fort Wayne to begin a four-game series with the TinCaps (2-2) on Monday at 7:05 p.m. (EDT).    Lyon Richardson, the Reds second round draft pick in 2018, will make his first start of the year for the Dragons. Fort Wayne will counter with Ramon Perez. The next home game is Friday, April 12 against the Lake County Captains (Cleveland Indians affiliate) at 7:00 p.m. at Fifth Third Field.

On the Air: All Dragons games are broadcast on radio on Fox Sports 980 WONE and on the internet at Games are also available on the Dayton Dragons mobile app and on HD Radio on 104.7 WTUI HD 2. 

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