DANVILLE — Tony Castonguay knows all too well that baseball is a game of failure.
The reminders have been beating him down for the past five months.
In 16 games this spring with the University of Kansas, Castonguay was just 3-of-18 at the plate for the Jayhawks with a home run and three RBIs.
His struggles continued in the Prospect League as Castonguay had just 1 hit in 19 at-bats in his first five games this summer with the Danville Dans.
Something had to change for the right-handed hitting catcher from Aurora, Colo. and it started with some extra work before batting practice with Danville hitting coach Jeff Wetzler.
On Sunday afternoon, Castonguay busted out his slump with three hits, two of them were home runs — including a third-inning grand slam — as the Danville Dans snapped a three-game losing streak against the Lafayette Aviators with a 10-5 triumph before 683 fans at Danville Stadium.
“I was off to a rough start, so I came in early and adjust a few things,’’ said Castonguay. “It felt pretty good today.’’
And it looked even better to Danville manager Eric Coleman.
“He’s been working with Jeff, so we put him into the lineup today and he responded with three hits,’’ Coleman said. “I couldn’t ask for more.
“There is a reason why he’s at Kansas and playing the Big 12 Conference. Now, we need him to build off this and keep getting better every time he steps between the lines.’’
So, was there a big change?
“It was just adjusting my hands and trying something different,’’ said Castonguay, who singled in his first at-bat. “It seemed to have worked pretty well. I thing we are going to stick with that for a while.’’
Castonguay’s grand slam in the third inning was the big blow in a 6-run inning for the Dans, who improved to 5-4 with the victory.
It turned a 3-0 deficit for Danville into a lead that it would never relinquish thanks in part to Castonguay’s 2-run homer in the fifth inning.
“Unlike Saturday night (a 15-8 loss for Danville) were were able to get the crooked numbers on them, taking advantage of some big hits by Tony,’’ Coleman said. “When we are able got get double-digits runs (10) and double-digits hits (13) — any time you do that, you have a good chance to win.’’
And, it seemed like the Dans came to life after a controversial play in the top half of the third inning.
With two outs and runners on first and third, Lafayette’s Mike Snyder got caught in a rundown between first and second base. As Danville first baseman Cooper McMurray chased Snyder, the baserunner veered to right field, appearing to go well out of the baseline. Snyder avoided McMurray’s tag attempt, making it back to first, as Tyler Kelly scored for third.
Coleman argued the call with Prospect League umpire Eric Gadski to no avail, but in the bottom half of the third, Danville had its 6-run inning.
“That was not my intent, I truly thought he was out of the baseline, but if it worked to wake them up than that’s a good thing,’’ Coleman said. “I tell these guys that they should come ready to battle for nine innings every single night.’’
So, did it have any affect on the Dans?
“Honestly, I think we got tired of getting beat by those guys,’’ said Castonguay, noting that Lafayette had won three straight coming into Sunday. “But, it did light a little fire for us.’’
Danville’s bullpen got a boost on Sunday with the additions of Jaxen Forrester, a right-hander from Mississippi State, and Jackson Torsey, a right-hander from Folsom Lake College. They combined with Danville closer Jake Leger to hold Lafayette to just two hits and one unearned run in the final four innings.
“We needed to get Forrester and Torsey used to the fire,’’ said Coleman about those guys making their debuts on Sunday. “Both of them came highly recommended to us.’’
The Dans are off on Monday, but they return to Danville Stadium on Tuesday for a 6:30 p.m. contest against the Terre Haute Rex. It will be the second of eight Two-Buck Tuesdays this season for the Dans. Admission to the game is just $2 and keep with that theme, hot dogs, soft drinks and Busch Light beer are also only $2.