The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Sports

June 29, 2012

Dans survive thriller to stop slide

DANVILLE — After six straight losses, the Danville Dans didn’t care how they got their next win.

So when Matthew Britton scored on Andrew Daniel’s two-out game-winning hit to center in the ninth, the team’s relief could be seen in their excitement as they rushed the field after beating Dubois County 12-11 before 412 hot, steamy fans at Danville Stadium.

“It was pretty big to get a win after six straight losses,’’ said Daniel who was 2-for-6. “With them being the first place team in our division, it was a little extra satisfying.’’

But the come-from-behind win came after the Dans (8-19) blew an eight-run lead in the eighth inning.

“They were down eight (10-2) in the eighth inning. We were all back on our heels and we thought we had the game locked up,’’ said Danville outfielder Casey Fletcher, who went 3-for-6 and his single to right tied the game at 11-11 in the ninth inning. “They strung a couple hits together. We made a few errors in the field. And all the sudden, stuff like that starts happening.

“It shows that we can never relax in this game — you always have to keep pushing and keep going.’’

Not only did Dubois County (19-8) come back to tie the game in the eighth with five hits and three Danville errors, but the Bombers actually took an 11-10 lead in the ninth on Landon Curry’s two-out run-scoring single to right.

“That should show us that we can never take our foot off the gas pedal. We always have to play hard regardless of the score,’’ Daniel said. “There are some things that we can clean up from that eight-run inning. But overall, it was good up until them and after that inning.

“We just need to play all 27 outs with the same focus.’’

And after losing its lead and falling behind, Danville regained its offensive punch.

Adam Casson led off the ninth with a walk and Evan Powell followed with a single to left, getting Casson around to third but Powell was thrown out trying to advance to second.

After Max Homick struck out for the second out of the inning, Britton drew the second walk from Dubois County reliever Nick Green (2-1).

Fletcher followed with a bloop single to right and Daniel drilled the first pitch he saw into center field for the game-winning hit.

“It was fun. It was entertaining for the crowd,’’ said Danville interim manager Trevor Hall as Jamie Sailors served his one-game suspension for his ejection last Saturday night.

“I thought our focus was better. I think we got out to the big lead and thought we could cruise,’’ Hall added. “At the same time, we kept competing. I don’t think we lost a whole lot. We just need to put the hammer down more.’’

Danville reliever Mat Snider, who gave up a run in the ninth, got the victory while starter Bobby Ruse, who looked really good in the first seven innings, was left with a no decision.

Ruse, who season-long outing had been 4Ï innings, allowed just two runs on six hits during the first seven frames.

“I was excited and I went really longer than the other times that I had pitched,’’ Ruse said. “But, I ran into a bump in the eighth. And, we just couldn’t get someone in there soon enough.’’

Ruse (0-3) hit a batter, walked one and allowed three hits to the first five Bomber batters in the eighth inning.

“We tried to extend our starter too much,’’ Hall said. “I was hoping he could eat some innings for us. The bullpen was a little depleted, but he ran out of steam in a hurry.

“I give all the credit to Bobby. He did well, he kept us in the game and he was real efficient with his pitch count. He helped our bullpen out a lot.’’

Dubois County went on to get two more hits in the frame and the Bombers tied the game when Scott Windler, who started the inning by getting hit by a pitch from Ruse, scored on a wild pitch from Danville reliever Jamie Pashuck. Windler reached base for the second time in the inning on an error by the Danville right fielder.

“It’s good that we won the game, but it was still a poorly played game,’’ Ruse said. “We should not have needed a comeback to win this game.

“That’s kind of the story of our season — we need to wrap up games sooner. But, at least we are getting there.’’

Fletcher admits that the Dans have put themselves into a last-place position in the Prospect League West Division.

“We can play with anyone in this league,’’ Fletcher said. “We beat ourselves most of the time. As long as we come out every day with the right mindset, a good approach at the plate and pitchers throw strikes. There is no reason that we can’t have a great second half.’’

And that second half will start on Tuesday as all teams in the Prospect League go back to 0-0 records.

“We need to build as much momentum as possible going into Tuesday,’’ Fletcher said. “The season is technically re-starting and we still have a chance for the playoffs.

“Maybe this win can get the snowball rolling and hopefully, we can get on a roll from the beginning of the second half.’’

Fletcher also had two interesting moments in the second and fourth innings.

After delivering a two-out, two-run single in the second, the former Oakwood standout got fooled by Dubois County shortstop Frank Rawdow. Fletcher stole second, but Rawdow convinced him it was a foul ball and as Fletcher returned to first, he was tagged out.

“That was a rookie mistake on my part,’’ he said.

Two innings later, the left-handed hitting outfielder blasted a solo home run to right field. It was his first blast of the summer.

“At least I contributed something more than being the laugh in the second inning,’’ Fletcher said.

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