DANVILLE — Slowly but surely, Danville Post 210 manager Allan Shepherd is figuring out what kind of team he has this summer.
On Friday night at Danville Stadium, left-hander Mason Ecker helped solidify Shepherd’s feelings about his pitching staff with a five-inning no-hitter against Charleston Post 93 in the opening game of a doubleheader.
“I had a good feeling about our pitchers coming into the summer and I feel that we have the best left-handers in the area,’’ Shepherd said.
Ecker, who didn’t throw for nearly two weeks because of some arm troubles during the high school season, is one of six left-handed pitchers for the Speakers.
And going all five innings wasn’t exactly the plan coming into the contest.
“I just kind of figured that I would throw a few innings and then let someone else take over for the rest of the game,’’ said Ecker. “After they didn’t get a hit against me in the first three innings, I just kept going.
“This was more than I anticipated, but it felt great.’’
Shepherd acknowledged that Ecker was going to be limited to 75 pitches, but the Paxton-Buckley-Loda graduate only needed 62 in his five innings. Ecker struck out six and walked only one.
“It was really good to bounce back from my arm troubles in the spring,’’ he said. “I just stayed positive and tried to throw strikes.’’
And did Shepherd think about taking him out?
“There was no way that I was going to pull him out with a no-hitter,’’ Shepherd said. “But, he was also effective and that is pleasing to see.’’
The Post 210 offense got off to a slow start against Charleston starter Lane Harrell, but after getting in run in the third on a two-out RBI single from Ernest Plummer to take a 1-0 lead, the Speakers exploded for nine runs in the fourth inning.
Danville sent 14 batters to the plate, getting only two hits, but six walks, two hit-by-pitches and a pair of errors turned a pitcher’s duel into a 10-run rule contest.
“I feel like (Harrell) has been on their senior team for the last five years,’’ said Shepherd. “He is a collegiate pitcher, so the game plan was to be patient and try to get his pitch count up.’’
Danville, which also won the second game 5-0, had just 11 hits in the doubleheader sweep against Charleston.
“It’s going good in the first week, but there are things that we need to work on,’’ said Danville’s Chase Vinson, who had a pair of run-scoring hits in the second game. “A lot of that development comes for the fact that a lot of these guys are new to being on the senior team.
“We are going to go through a learning experience at some point this season. Right now, getting some confidence and some reps are big for this group.’’
This weekend is a big step forward for Danville with six games in three days.
Today’s originally scheduled doubleheader against Shelby County at Gruber Park in Tilton has been cancelled. The Speakers have picked up two games, one against Lincoln and one against Ford/Iroquois, today in Lincoln beginning at 1 p.m.
On Sunday, Danville will travel to Terre Haute, Ind., for games against Evansville Funkhouser and Terre Haute.
“The opponents are getting deeper as the weekend goes,’’ Shepherd said. “Evansville Funkhouser and Terre Haute are both top-notch teams in Indiana.’’