BY CHAD DARE
Danville Dans left-hander Spencer Herrmann threw just 20.2 innings this past spring at the University of North Florida.
So, naturally, he was projected as left-hander reliever coming into the summer season.
After one relief appearance, Herrman got a a start in just his second game with the Dans and the left-hander has been a consistent in the starting rotation.
On Tuesday night, Herrmann went seven innings, allowing just one unearned as the Danville Dans defeated the Terre Haute Rex 5-1 before 893 at Danville Stadium.
“I hope I can translate this success over to next season,’’ said Herrmann, who is now 2-2 with a very nice 1.68 ERA in 48 innings pitched. “I feel like if I can stay low in the zone, pounding the strike zone and letting the fielders work a little bit. I’m successful and it makes the game goes a little faster.’’
After a rocky first inning in which Herrmann a unearned run and three hits, the junior-to-be from Jacksonville, Fla., allowed just three hits over the next six frames. Herrmann finished with six strikeouts and just two walks, both of those coming in his final inning.
“The first inning always gets me,’’ he said. “After that, I feel like teams are not able to get me after that, and I settle down into a good groove.’’
Danville Dans manager Jason Watson said that Herrmann has been one of his main starters this summer, as the left-hander has made eight starts and he picked up the team’s first complete game in a 2-0 loss to Springfield last Thursday.
“He is a competitor,’’ Watson said. “He has gotten a lot better in every game he pitches. He has command of all of his pitches and he has developed quite nicely.
“He is a guy that we are very confident in putting out there. He keeps the ball low, good velocity and good movement on his offspeed pitches.’’
Now will his success this summer transfer over to a starting role next year at North Florida.
“I will also have to do well during the fall, so that coach (Smoke Laval) can see it himself,’’ Herrmann said. “But, I’m hoping that this strong summer season will carry over for me.
“It’s been a matter of pacing myself. I would try to throw a 100 mph when I came into the game out the bullpen. Now, I’m trying to find movement to last longer.’’
Miles Nordgren and Trey McNickle combined to get the final six outs for the Dans, who improve to 39-16 overall, and they are just one win away from tying the Prospect League record for wins in a season, which is 40 by last year’s West Virginia Miners.
“That’s a pretty big deal,’’ said Danville center fielder Jake Thomas, who went 2-for-4 with a two-run double in the four-run second inning for the Dans. “This league is known around the country and guys come here from all different states to play here.’’
And the victory also moved Danville closer to clinching the Prospect League’s West Division. The Dans just need one more victory or one loss by the Quincy Gems to secure the division title and home-field advantage in the playoffs.
“That’s even better news,’’ Thomas said. “Both are pretty important, but we would really like to get home-field advantage against a good team like Quincy for the postseason series.’’
Danville got closer to its goal of a title in spite of a few fielding miscues and some missed opportunities offensively.
“We didn’t play very well tonight, but we put up a four-spot in the second inning,’’ Watson said. “It gave Spencer some breathing room, and it seems like all season in every game, we haven’t gotten him very many runs.
“I want them to keep playing hard and keep learning. Continue to learn and continue to get better. It’s a long season.’’
The Dans scored four unearned runs in that second inning, taking advantage of two errors by the Rex, who fall to 27-27 with the loss.
“They booted a couple of balls and they threw it around a little bit,’’ Thomas said. “When you get a team on their heels, you need to keep putting the ball in play, and you keep making things happen.’’
The Dans added an insurance run in the eighth when Tyler Selesky delivered a run-scoring double to right-center, scoring Chet Simoneaux from first base.
Danville has three regular-season home games remaining in the 2013 season.
Today is off day for the Dans, but they will host the Quincy Gems on Thursday, the Hannibal Cavemen on Friday and the Terre Haute Rex on Saturday.
All three games at Danville Stadium are scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. start.
Additionally, the Danville Dans are offering Prospect League playoff tickets for $4, which is $2 less than the cost of tickets at the gate on game day.