BY CHAD DARE
Winning always takes precedent over baseball etiquette.
That was the response that Danville Dans infielder Sam Maus got from his teammates on Tuesday night.
So with Springfield’s Ridge Ackerman tossing a no-hitter, Maus laid down a perfect bunt down the third-base line.
After a pair of passed balls advanced him to third, Danville’s Chet Simoneaux delivered a sacrifice fly to center to score Maus and the Dans completed a doubleheader sweep with a 2-1 win over the Sliders at Danville Stadium.
“You play to win, and how ever you can win, that’s how you should play,’’ said Simoneaux, when asked about the Maus bunt. “It was 1-1 and that’s what we needed to win.’’
Maus admitted he knew the situation and he asked his teammates and coaches about it before leading off the sixth inning.
“We were talking about that before I went up to hit. ‘Do you think it’s bush league if I bunt?’ Everyone said it was good,’’ Maus said. “In that situation, it’s a tie game and you are just trying to get on base anyway that you can. The situation would have been different if we were trailing 5-0, but it was 1-1.
“I saw the third baseman was back and I know the grass was a little slick, so I figured that I would do it on the first pitch.’’
Danville coach Jason Watson did not even know that Ackerman, who fell to 1-3, was even throwing a no-hitter but that didn’t matter to him.
“Sam is a great bunter, and if you have it, and we have a chance to win the game — you do it,’’ said Watson, who pointed out that Simoneaux came up big with the one-out sacrifice fly to center.
“He hit the ball hard all day, but right at people,’’ Watson said. “Even that one was hit hard and it got the job done.’’
Simoneaux, who went 1-for-4 in the doubleheader with a run scored, said his only thought was getting Maus in with the go-ahead run.
“I knew there was a guy on third and I was just looking for a pitch that I could drive into the outfield,’’ said Simoneaux, who leads the Dans with 14 RBIs this summer.
Danville also beat Springfield 2-1 in opener with Corbin Olmstead getting his first win as a starter and it’s the fourth doubleheader sweep for the Dans, who improved to 19-11 with the two victories.
“It’s awesome, there is no better feeling than beating a team twice,’’ Simoneaux said. “Our goal is to be 21-7 in July. That’s what we are shooting for.’’
The two wins on Tuesday night gives Danville a 3-0 record in the new month and Springfield has now lost 11 in a row.
“When we play teams, I don’t care what their records are,’’ Watson said. “Any team can put together a really good night and win a game.
“Our goal is to be the team that plays the best each night.’’
Good pitching goes a long way toward good baseball. Mitch Holtz and Jared Burton combined for 3Ï innings of shutout relief for the Dans. Holtz got the win, improving to 4-0 and Burton got his first save of the summer.
Danville starter Jacob Hall, making his Danville Stadium debut, allowed just one run in 3Ð innings.
In the first game, Olmstead allowed just one unearned run in five innings, walking none and striking out five.
“Corbin came out, kept the ball low, threw strikes and let his defense work,’’ Watson said. “He’s a guy that when he’s on, he is tough to beat.’’
This was just his second start of the summer, and just his third outing where he went more than two innings.
Watson pointed out that Olmstead is trying to work himself into a starting position next year at the University of North Florida.
“I was a starter in high school, but this past year in college, I was a reliever,’’ said Olmstead, who improved to 2-1 with the victory. “Being able to be a starter and go deep into games is a good skill to have, whether I’m a starter or a reliever next season.’’
But, getting that first win as a starter was a little more significant.
“As a reliever when you get a win, you’re not sure that you really earned it,’’ he said. “But as a starter, you come into a fresh game — it’s a little more of an accomplishment to me.’’
Olmstead said it’s also different in how you pitch.
“As a reliever, you know that you are not throwing many innings, so you can throw your hardest,’’ he said. “As a starter, you have to pace yourself and you have to locate your pitches better.’’
Reliever Trey McNickle threw the final two innings to get his third save of the summer.
Casey Fletcher and Taylor Banks drove home runs for the Dans in the opener.
Danville is off on Wednesday and the Dans next game is at Terre Haute on Fourth of July. First pitch at Bob Warn Field is set for 6:05 p.m.
The next home game for the Dans is Friday against the first-place Quincy Gems. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.