The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

July 12, 2013

Dans hold on to first

BY CHAD DARE
Commercial-News

DANVILLE —  Winning is obviously a lot of fun.

But when you are dealing with the 2013 Danville Dans, having fun and winning are going hand-in-hand.

“This is a good group of guys,’’ Danville Dans coach Jason Watson said. “They like to have fun. They like to work hard. And they like to win.

“When things are going right, it’s a lot of fun.’’

And things continue to go right for the Danville Dans in the month of July.

On Thursday night, the Dans tied the Prospect League season-best win streak with their 10th consecutive victory.

Tyler Selesky’s RBI fielder’s choice scored Casey Fletcher from third base giving Danville a 1-0 victory. It was also the team’s eight walk-off victory of the season.

“It’s a different guy every night,’’ said Selesky, who has figured into two of the walk-off victories. “It’s not the same people doing it in every game. Every night, it seems like when we need someone to step up, we find a guy that either makes the big play, gets the big hit or makes the big pitch.’’

And it’s the attitude on this roster that has kept things very loose during their recent win streak, which is the second longest in Danville Dans baseball history.

Only the 2003 team, which won the CICL title, had a longer win streak of 11 games.

“This is great momentum heading into the all-star break,’’ said Danville Dans first baseman Spencer Herrmann, who played a key role in the final play.

With the bases loaded and facing a 1-2 count, Selesky hit a grounder to Quincy shortstop Nick Roscetti.

“I was just trying to put the ball in play at that point, and hopefully, make something happen,’’ said Selesky, who has been selected to play in the 2013 Prospect League All-Star game.

Herrmann, who was on the second base, first avoided getting hit by the grounder, and then he tried to avoid the tag of Roscetti.

“I just tried to get in the way to see if I could get him to miss it and then he ran into me,’’ said Herrmann, who was tag out by Roscetti, who then attempted an off-balance throw to the plate, trying to get Fletcher.

Quincy argued that Herrmann interfered with the play.

“I guess they thought I ran into him, but he ran into me. I was on the ground,’’ Herrmann said.

It’s just another unusual walk-off win for the Dans (26-11).

“These guys will always fight until the end,’’ Watson said. “They are competitors. They will do what it takes to bring home a victory.

“I know that is something we, as a coach staff, can appreciate. Rick (Fraire) and Tony (Gatto) and myself enjoy working with this group. There is something about guys that have fun, but can dial it in when the game starts.’’

Fletcher, the native of Newtown, got the ninth-inning rally started with a single to center. Fletcher is one of four Danville Dans selected for the all-star game, along with Troy Conyers and Miles Nordgren.

Chet Simoneaux followed with a sacrifice bunt and then Quincy elected to walk Herrmann. Sam Maus earned a walk after being down in the count at 2-2.

“That inning all starts with the leadoff guy getting on base,’’ Watson said. “But, Sam has one heck of an at-bat — fouling off a tough 2-2 pitch and then drawing the walk.’’

That set the stage for Selesky game-winning at-bat, but even he knew it was a team effort.

“Good pitching kept us in the game and we were able to get the timely hit late in the game,’’ he said.

Blake Stevens, Jon Rashid and Nordgren combined to toss the seven-hit shutout. Nordgren got the win, improving to 3-1.

Stevens got a no decision after throwing seven shutout innings, and striking out seven while walking just one.

“I don’t care about not getting the decision, as long as we won as a team,’’ said Stevens, whose ERA is now 1.50. “Besides winning as a team, you goal as a player is to play well and get better.

“Obviously, I pitched well and we got a run in the ninth to win.’’

Stevens said he’s having a lot of fun this season and this team has a ton of personality.

“I just think we decided that we’re not going to lose,’’ he said about their 10-game win streak in July.

With Thursday’s victory, the Dans increased their lead in the Prospect League’s West Division to 1½ games over the Quincy Gems (25-13).

Danville will look to extend its win streak to a season-best 11 games tonight on the road in Springfield.

First pitch at Robin Roberts Field is set for 6:35 p.m.