DANVILLE — Some wild spurts of scoring and three lead changes ultimately resulted in the Dans winning their 24th game of the year, and maintaining the top spot in the Prospect League East Division with a 7-6 win over the Springfield Sliders.
Heading into the ninth with a 7-5 lead, Danville reliever Jesse Wainscott induced a groundout to the shortstop, stranding two runners, and giving the Dans a victory.
Wainscott looked comfortable on the mound, saying “All I wanted to do was close it out for my boys, and having a lead helped boost my confidence heading into the final two innings.”
Dans manager Eric Coleman shared the same confidence in his closer:
“We knew he was fresh going into the game, and the stuff was there,’’ Coleman said. “He closed the game out with a win. That’s all you can ask from him.”
“I’m a big fastball guy, but my breaking ball ability has improved tremendously since coming to Danville, especially how I use my changeup,” said Wainscott.
The right-hander recorded the win, entering during a tie ballgame to start the seventh inning.
Sliders right-hander Colton Thompson retired all six batters he faced in the fifth and sixth innings to keep the ballgame tied at 5-5, but back-to-back solo home runs from Dans batters Brad Powers and Craig Keuchel to begin the seventh inning gave Thompson a bitter taste as he walked to the dugout.
“I hit one foul that would have been a homer if I straightened it out, so I knew if I could get another good pitch to hit, I could blast another one,” said Powers.
Craig Keuchel added an insurance run that would end up being vital in the Dans victory. “Coming to the plate after Brad (Powers), I was very relaxed knowing we had the lead.’’
A scoreless game heading into the bottom of the 3rd, it looked to be another 1-2-3 inning for Sliders pitcher Rob Parks, but a throwing error by third baseman Alex Ludwick with two outs and nobody on base resulted in seven more Dans batters stepping up to the plate, and four runs on the board for Danville.
After right fielder Aidan Malm reached on the error, he stole second and scored on an RBI double to right-center by Powers.
Keuchel walked, leading to an RBI single from center fielder Wes Toups, who ended up scoring when second baseman Mick Moody walked with the bases loaded. The Dans added another run in the fourth via a sacrifice fly to right field from Keuchel, which scored Malm.
After four innings of scoreless pitching, Danville left-hander Dawson Sweatt left the game in the top of the fifth after giving up a single and two walks to the first three Springfield batters.
Facing a bases-loaded jam with no outs, reliever Hunter Freese threw a wild pitch, advancing all three runners, Alex Ludwick scoring the run.
A single from shortstop Tyler Black was limited to just one run batted in after Dans right fielder Aidan Malm connected with second baseman Mick Moody to throw out Sliders center fielder Will Hanafan at home.
Thunderous cheering after the outfield assist quickly turned to silence.
The Sliders next batter, catcher David Vilches, launched a two-run homer over the left-field fence. Freese bounced back and finished the inning with two consecutive strikeouts, ending his appearance.
The Sliders put another run across the plate off of Dans righty Jackson Kelley in the top of the sixth, when second baseman Colten Schild poked an RBI single to right field.
“That’s simply baseball,” said Coleman, remarking about the lead changes, “You cannot judge a team based on their record. Springfield is a very talented team, and we knew they had the capability of putting up a lot of runs.”
The Dans improve to 24-8 on the season, and they play the Sliders for a third game in a row tonight at Robin Roberts Field in Springfield.
DANS ON DECK
Final score — Danville Dans 7, Springfield Sliders 6
Key player — Reliever Jesse Wainscott allowed just one run in three innings to pick up his first win of the summer.
Up next — The Dans travel to Springfield tonight for their third straight game with the Sliders. First pitch at Robin Roberts Field is set for 5:05 p.m.
Probable starters — Springfield: RHP Nick Mackdeon; Danville: RHP RJ Kuruts
Next home game — After an off day on Monday, the Dans return to Danville Stadium on Tuesday for a 6:30 game with the Terre Haute Rex
Promotion — Two-buck Tuesday.