BY CHAD DARE
Almost every baseball player is given a nickname by either his teammates or the fans.
Danville Dans left-hander Troy Conyers is currently carrying a pair of unique monikers.
His teammates at the University of San Diego call him ‘Big T,’ while his new summer teammates with the Danville Dans have taken to calling him ‘Donkey.’
No matter which name they used on Friday night, the Terre Haute Rex left Danville Stadium muttering his name as Conyers struck out a season-high 11 during the Dans 2-0 victory before 3,268.
“I think I preferred being called ‘Big T’,” said Conyers, referring to his collegiate nickname.
And how did he think he pitched?
“I had all three of my pitches working tonight,” he said. “I was able to locate my fastball and my changeup had a good downward dive on it.”
Not only was the 11 strikeouts the best for Conyers this season, but it was also a season-best for a Danville pitcher — the previous high was eight by Conyers in his first outing of the summer a week ago against the Quincy Gems.
“I can be pretty deceptive,” Conyers said. “When my changeup is working like it was tonight, I feel like I should get a lot of strikeouts.”
Conyers (2-0) also gave credit to his catcher, Kyle Kapka, for calling a great game behind the plate.
And the only thing that Conyers wanted to change about Friday’s outing was the length as the Dans improved to 11-9 with the victory.
“I wish I could have kept going in the eighth and ninth innings,” he said.
Conyers was replaced starting the eighth inning as he reached his pitch limit, the left-hander threw 85 pitches — 65 for strikes.
“Troy is one of the pitchers that wants the ball every fifth day if you would let him have it,” Danville manager Jason Watson said. “He was very dominate and I know the Terre Haute Rex were happy that we took him out after that seventh inning.”
And that’s because Conyers retired the final 15 Terre Haute batters that he faced on Friday night. The only trouble he faced came in the third inning.
The Rex (13-7) had runners on first and third with no outs after a single by Evan Heptig, the only hit that Conyers allowed in seven innings, and an error on a sacrifice bunt by Will Colantono. But that’s when Conyers delivered his best pitches of the night. He struck out the next three Terre Haute batters to get out of the jam without a run scoring.
“He just took it upon himself to get out of that inning,” Watson said. “He just went right after them and pounded the zone with pitch after pitch.”
Danville got just enough offense for Conyers in the fourth inning as Casey Fletcher, who went 2-for-4, delivered a run-scoring double into the right-center field gap, scoring Spencer Herrmann, who led off the inning with an infield single, from first base.
“When you’ve got a dominant pitcher like Troy on the mound, you just need to find a way to scratch out a couple of runs,” Watson said. “But, it still would have been nice to capitalized on a few more opportunities to score.”
The Dans got their second run when Fletcher scored from third on an errant pickoff throw after Kapka’s single to left in the fourth. That was Danville’s only hit with runners in scoring position on Friday night. The Dans are now 2-for-23 at the plate with runners in scoring position and they left nine runners on base after leaving 10 on during Thursday’s loss.
Relievers Miles Nordgren and Corbin Olmstead got the final six outs with Olmstead picking up his second save of the summer.
Danville is idle on Saturday before traveling to Hannibal on Sunday for a 7:05 p.m. contest against the Cavemen.
The next home game for the Dans will be a doubleheader on Tuesday against the Springfield Sliders. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. and it’s a Two-Buck Tuesday with $2 admission, $2 hot dogs and $2 drinks.