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The Danville Dans players, coaches and bat boy celebrate Saturday’s sweep of the Quincy Gems at Danville Stadium. The Dans beat the Gems 5-2 in first game and 4-3 in 11 innings in the second game.

There’s no substitute for experience, and when Danville’s Mikie Mahtook and Austin Nola step to the plate in pressure situations, worries tend to vanish.

And why shouldn’t they? Just prior to joining the Dans this summer, the duo helped the LSU Tigers win the College World Series.

Saturday, they made it look like they had been there before, both coming up with clutch hits in Danville’s 4-3 11-inning win over Quincy to sweep the doubleheader against the division-leading Gems.

Mahtook hit his first home run of the summer to send the game to extra innings, and Nola pulled through in the 11th with a walk-off RBI single that barely drew a reaction from the right fielder.

The sweep was a must if the Dans have any hope of playing in the postseason.

“We obviously went on a postseason run at LSU,” Mahtook said. “We came through in clutch games and both of us came through with clutch hits at the right times. I think those moments helped us today. They kind of help you relax when you’re up there in a pressure situation. You’ve got to win these games if you want to extend your season.”

With a new pitcher on the mound in the seventh, Mahtook sent a 1-1 pitch soaring over the left field wall to tie the score at 3-3.

Four innings later, his college teammate came up a walk-off single to right-center, scoring Austin Green who led off the inning with a double to left.

“Quincy is a great team and that’s why they are at the top of the division,” Danville manager Pete Paciorek said. “We’re trying to hold tight and keep battling as a team. Our guys show a lot of character. They battle and battle and battle.

“It’s great to see Austin Nola, who has worked so hard all summer since he’s gotten here — it’s good to see him come up with that big hit right there to win that ballgame for us.”

As glad as the Dans were to see Nola hit the line drive, Nola was just as happy for Mahtook to even give him a chance.

“He always (pulls through),” Nola said. “It was about his time. He had been waiting so much and he has been real frustrated. He started doing things the right way and it went well for him. He hit the game-tying home run and pulled through for us.”

Mahtook was 0-for-3 prior to his at bat, and Nola had struck out twice and reached on an error.

Green drove in the Dans’ first run of the game and then crossed the plate in the sixth on an infield error.

Now the Dans will hope to win out while rooting heavily against the Gems in order to keep their postseason hopes alive.

Quincy currently sits four games ahead of Danville with six to play. But the Dans realize that it might take a bit of luck and a few stumbles by Quincy to see extra games.

“It’s good (to sweep Quincy), but we still don’t control our destiny,” Nola said. “If we just keep playing ball the way we are supposed to (it could happen). Everything’s got to work out for us. If it does, it does. If it doesn’t, oh well.

“We’re just going out there playing, trying to get better each day and things are working out. We’re winning.”

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