The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

August 1, 2013

Dans claim division title

Staff Report

---- — HANNIBAL, Mo. — After 55 games of baseball this summer, Danville Dans coach Jason Watson spent his off day watching a game online.

As it turns out, the game that Watson was watching was Hannibal’s 13-9 win over Quincy at Clemens Field in Hannibal, Mo., and with the Cavemen’s win over the Gems, the Danville Dans secured the Prospect League’s West Division title.

“It’s a great honor for the organization and the community to win this title,’’ said Watson, who was getting ready to drag the infield at Danville Stadium. “Everyone involved with the organization has done a tremendous job of bringing together some really talented players and those players have done a great job of buying into this season.’’

After a little bit of a slow start, the Dans turned things around quickly in the month of July.

They set a Prospect League record with a 11-game win streak and with Tuesday’s 5-1 win over the Terre Haute Rex, Danville finished the month of July with a 23-5 record.

“It’s a little unusual to clinch the title on an off day,’’ Watson said. “But, there is no doubt that we put ourselves in this position with our play over the last month.

“If it didn’t happen tonight, I was pretty confident that we were going to get a win in our final five games.’’

With the division title, the Danville Dans are assured of hosting Games 2 and 3 (if necessary) in the Prospect League’s West Division playoffs next week against an opponent yet to be determined. Quincy needs just one win or a Hannibal loss to clinch the No. 2 position. The playoffs will begin next Tuesday at the site of the No. 2 team and then Game 2 and 3 will be played on Wednesday and next Thursday, if necessary, at Danville Stadium.

Tickets for those playoff games will be available during the final three regular-season games for the Danville Dans for just $4 — that’s a discount of $2 from what they will cost on the day of the playoff games.

With just five games remaining in the regular season, the Danville Dans still have a goal to accomplish. The Prospect League record for wins in a season is 40, set by the West Virginia Miners a year ago. Danville can tie that mark tonight as the Dans host the Quincy Gems in a 6:30 p.m. contest at Danville Stadium.

“That would be a nice accomplishment for this team,’’ Watson said. “With the support that we’ve gotten from the community, we want to win everything that we can.

“And, I still want these guys trying to get better everyday. That was our No. 1 goal when the year started and that remains our top priority.’’

The final two home games for the Danville Dans, after tonight, will be Friday against the Hannibal Cavemen and Saturday night against the Terre Haute Rex.

Danville Dans add Zimmerman to roster

When catcher Taylor Banks, a senior-to-be from Grand Valley State, broke his ribs in a July 20th game against the Springfield Sliders, the team knew it needed another backstop for the final weeks and the posteason playoffs.

Last Saturday, Kelton Zimmerman, a sophomore from the College of DuPage, joined the squad in Quincy. So far, Zimmerman has appeared in three road games, drawing three walks and scoring one run for the Dans.

“Actually, it’s an honor to join a team that has already clinched a playoff spot,’’ said Zimmerman, who is from Glen Ellyn. “I was playing with the Rockford Foresters in the Midwest Collegiate League, and our season ended a week ago.’’