BY CHAD DARE
Little things typically lead to victories.
For the Danville Dans on Tuesday night, a pair of perfectly executed bunts was the difference in a 5-4 win over the Springfield Sliders in 10 innings at Danville Stadium.
Kyle Kapka and Tyler Selesky followed a leadoff walk to Troy Conyers in the 10th with bunts down the first-base and third-base lines respectively. On both occasions, the ball seemingly stopped right on the chalk line.
“We just got them down in a good spot and they stayed fair,’’ said Kapka, Danville’s catcher. “We just did our job.’’
With the bases loaded and one out, Danville shortstop Drew Buddle beat out a potential inning-ending, double-play ball to get the game-winning fielder’s choice as Conyers scored from third.
“Getting the leadoff guy on base and then those two guys that were called upon to bunt, got them down and you can’t defend a perfect bunt,’’ said Buddle, who was 1-for-4 with an RBI. “I just hit one to the shortstop and ran as fast as I could.
“Thankfully, I was able to beat the throw to first.’’
Not only did Kapka and Selesky play key roles in the 10th inning, the No. 8 and 9 hitters in the Danville lineup drove in runs during the Dans two-run eighth inning allowing them to tie the game at 4-4.
Kapka drew a bases-loaded walk to pull Danville within 4-3 and Selesky, who is just 3-of-33 at the plate, delivered a game-tying sacrifice fly to left.
“There are very few guys on this team, if any, that I wouldn’t feel comfortable with getting a bunt down or moving a runner,’’ Danville manager Jason Watson said. “Tyler has been struggling a little bit, but he put a good swing on that one to tie the game up.
“That was huge for him to get more comfortable at the plate.’’
Kapka, who was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, got the scoring started for Danville (5-5) with an RBI-single to right in the fourth inning after Springfield had built a 3-0 lead.
“We just had to keep our head into the game,’’ Kapka said. “We knew we just needed to get guys on base and when you put the ball in play — good things happen.
“We were just trying to do too much early on and we just need to stay relax and put the ball in play.’’
The come-from-behind victory is the second straight for the Dans against the Sliders (3-10) at Danville Stadium.
“When we play this team, we don’t seem to get down when we get into a early hole,’’ Buddle said. “We just keep our heads up and keep playing.’’
Danville has won four straight against Springfield and besides the late inning rallies, the other key for the Dans has been their bullpen.
Jared Burton, Mitch Holtz and Jon Rashid combined to throw five shutout innings on Tuesday night.
“They will compete,’’ Watson said. “They all want the ball, and so far this year, we have been very good with the bullpen guys.’’
Danville’s bullpen has not allowed a run in 16 consecutive innings as Rashid got his first victory, getting the final four outs.
“Those guys are coming in and throwing strikes,’’ Kapka said.
With Tuesday’s night victory, the Dans improve to 5-5 and they are just two games behind the Terre Haute Rex (8-4) for first-place in the Prospect League’s West Division.
“Last week, we were frustrated that we were so far down in the standings,’’ said Kapka as the Dans have won three of their last four. “We just have to stay relaxed and the wins are going to come.’’
And they could come this week as the Dans started a five-game homestand on Tuesday night.
Up next for Danville, who is idle today, is a doubleheader on Thursday against the Hannibal Cavemen, followed by single games with Quincy Gems and the Terre Haute Rex.
“We had a day off to get our bodies rested up and then we have four big games at home,’’ Buddle said. “Hopefully, this will get us rolling.’’
And Watson said the team noticed the home-crowd support on Tuesday night.
“It’s always fun to play in front of the home-town crowd,’’ he said. “So it was a good win because we were at home and it’s good to get that win heading into an off day.’’
Also picking up multiple hits for the Dans on Tuesday night was former Oakwood standout Casey Fletcher, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI.