BY CHAD DARE
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. —
Heading into the Prospect League’s All-Star break, the Danville Dans were the hottest team in the league.
Danville, which is ranked No. 15 nationally in collegiate summer-league baseball by Perfect Game, was 13-1 during the month of July, including a Prospect League record 11-game win streak.
So having three days off away from the field was a concern for Danville coach Jason Watson.
On Friday night at Bob Warn Field in Terre Haute, Ind., the Dans showed no signs that the all-star break was a problem.
Behind solid pitching and timely hitting, Danville defeated the Terre Haute Rex 4-1.
“We wanted to keep playing good baseball and keep thing rolling,’’ said Danville catcher Taylor Banks, who had a pivotal two-out, two-run double in the fourth inning. “We are pitching it well and we are getting timely hits. That’s what we need to keep doing every night.’’
Danville, which has won 10 of its last 11 on the road and six straight against Terre Haute, scored all four of its runs on Friday night with two outs.
Coming up with the big two-out hits were Spencer Herrman with run-scoring double in the second and Chet Simoneaux had an RBI single in the fifth.
“That’s been the best part about our recent success. It seems like each night it’s a different guy coming up with the big hit,’’ said Banks. “If it’s not the guys at the top of our order, than it’s the guys at the bottom.’’
Those four runs were more than enough for Danville starter Blake Stevens.
The right-hander allowed just one run on fifth hits in six innings, while he walked just one and struck out five.
“Coming off a break, the guys were focused. We picked up where we left off,’’ Watson said. “I was happy to see Blake pound the zone for six innings. And then we had Jared (Burton), Miles (Nordgren) and Trey (McNickle) — all pitched well in relief like they have done all season.’’
Burton allowed one hit, while striking out three in his inning.
Nordgren allowed one hit and then got three ground ball outs.
And McNickle picked up his sixth save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
“These guys will show up and have fun,’’ Watson said. “We are pretty laid back team and we let the guys do what they are supposed to do.
“They know when to flip the switch. They have a good time, but when their number is called, they get focused.’’
With the victory, Danville maintains its two-game lead over Quincy, who beat Hannibal 8-2 on Friday night.
The Dans, who improve to 30-12, also own at least a nine-game lead over the Cavemen and the Rex for a postseason playoff berth in the Prospect League’s West Division.
“We’re not spending too much time looking at the playoffs,’’ Banks said. “We are only nine games up and if we start looking ahead too much, we could hit a slide, and be right back into the mix.’’
Danville, which has won eight straight at home, will host a doubleheader with the Springfield Sliders tonight at Danville Stadium.
The first game, a 7-inning contest, will be the completion of a suspended game from June 25. The Sliders are leading the Dans 3-0 heading in the bottom of the first inning. That game is scheduled to resume at 5 p.m.
After the completion of the suspended game, the Dans and the Sliders will play their regularly-scheduled 9-inning game. First pitch is tentatively set for 7 p.m.
Tonight is McPack the Place night at Danville Stadium sponsored by the Vermilion County McDonald’s restaurants.
a new outfielder
Former Urbana standout Trey Russell, a senior-to-be from Eastern Illinois University, was added to the Danville Dans roster on Friday.
Russell, who was a second-team All-American at Joliet Junior College in 2012, batted .245 with 1 home run and 4 RBIs this past season with the Panthers.
During his high school career, Russell was first-team all-Big 12 in 2010 and he currently plays for former Danville High and Danville Dans standouts Ben Wolgamot and Jason Anderson.