BY CHAD DARE
A poor start turned into an all-around bad night for the Danville Dans.
Right-handed starter Matt Brandys hit three batters and walked one before getting pulled because of a blister problem on his throwing hand.
The damage had already been done as the Terre Haute Rex scored five times in the opening frame en route to a 7-2 victory over the Danville Dans in a Prospect League baseball game at Danville Stadium.
“Matt had some issues with some blisters,’’ Danville coach Jason Watson said. “He wanted to battle through it, but he couldn’t locate or get a good handle on the ball.’’
And, the struggles on the mound carried over into some problems for the Danville defense, which had two opportunities to turn a key double play in the first inning.
One of those chances resulted in the first of three error by the Dans infield in Thursday’s game.
“We just didn’t execute it,’’ Watson said. “If your pitcher is struggling, he needs to have his defense behind him when he gets a groundball that could be two outs.’’
Brandys admitted he’s had a blister problem at times in his career, and he was concerned before taking the mound against the Rex.
“I said something to (catcher) Taylor (Banks) before the game that this might be a little rough tonight,’’ said Brandys, who falls to 1-2 with the loss. “I started to have some problems last week, but I wanted to try to get through it. It just didn’t work out the way I wanted.’’
And for Brandys, whose best pitch is a two-seam fastball, a blister is one of the toughest things to overcome.
“But, it’s something that I need to learn how to overcome,’’ he said. “Our bullpen really picked me up tonight and gave us a chance to win.’’
Mitch Holtz came on for Brandys, allowing just one run in five innings of relief. After that was Jared Burton, who allowed just one unearned run in two innings, an Miles Nordgren retired all six batters that he faced.
“That was the good news of the night,’’ Watson said. “Mitch came into a very difficult situation and threw very well. And I thought that Jared and Miles followed that up with good performances as well.’’
Unfortunately for the Dans, the offense wasn’t any better than the starting pitching or the defense.
“It wasn’t a good way to start and we were a little flat,’’ said Danville leadoff batter Jake Thomas, who went 1-for-4 with a run-scoring double in the Dans’ two-run third inning. “We were chip away a little bit in that one inning, but we couldn’t keep it going.’’
Thomas not only got credit for Danville’s only RBI, he was also the only one to get a hit with a runner in scoring position against Terre Haute.
The Dans, who were 1-of-10 with runners in scoring position, wound up leaving 10 runners on base. And their biggest problem was 13 fly-ball outs to go along with three strikeouts.
“We just didn’t play very well — whether it was the starting pitching, the defense or the offense,’’ Watson said. “Thirteen fly-ball outs is way too many, anyone can catch a fly ball.’’
“Almost every inning (seven out of nine), we had guys on base. A hit here or a hit there — it could have been a different story.’’
And, it wasn’t just a lack of key hit. Danville also failed to get a sacrifice bunt down on couple of occasions.
“Execution is key — especially in a wood bat league,’’ Watson said. “Most nights, we have done very well with the small-ball game, but tonight we didn’t execute.’’
With the loss, Danville (10-9) falls three games behind both the Terre Haute Rex (13-6) and the Quincy Gems in the Prospect League’s West Division.
“It’s a long season — we still have a lot of games left to play,’’ said Thomas, noting that the Dans have 41 games left in their season. “These type of games are going to happen with how many games we play in a year. We have to work through it.’’
But, is he concerned that Danville has won just one of its first five contests against Terre Haute?
“We’re still going to see them a lot, hopefully, we get them figured out,’’ Thomas said. “Tonight was a tough loss, but we just got to come back and try to win the next game.’’
Danville will host Terre Haute again tonight at Danville Stadium in a 6:30 p.m. contest.
It is Cellular One poster night with the first 1,400 fans receiving a Danville Dans poster. Additionally, it is also Danville Township night with a postgame fireworks show sponsored by the Danville Township.