DANVILLE — A pair of one-run losses on the road can really hurt a team's morale.
But all of that it was quickly erased for the Danville Dans on Saturday night.
With a crowd of 2,413 at Danville Stadium for Military Appreciation Night and a fireworks show following the contest, the Dans got the festivities started early and often with an 18-6 triumph over the Quincy Gems.
"This is good for everyone,'' said Danville right-fielder Marcel Bachelier, who went 2-for-5 with an RBI double in the first inning and a two-run homer in the third. "Everyone just loosens up and it helps you to remember that you are supposed to have fun with this game.
"This was a good night for the Danville Dans.''
And Danville manager Eric Coleman pointed out, that it's always good for the team to have a good game like Saturday night when there is a big crowd in the stands.
"You always want to play well in front of your home crowd — they back us and support us all summer,'' Coleman said. "We need them as much as we need our teammates.
"They are like our 10th man.''
Both Bachelier and Coleman acknowledged that Saturday's big win helped offset some of the disappointment of back-to-back 1-run losses on the road against the first-place Lafayette Aviators on Thursday (7-6) and Friday (9-8 in 11 innings).
"We have been hitting the ball and we have been playing good baseball,'' Bachelier said. "But, we just let those last two games on the road get away for us. It's not like we have been playing terrible.''
But, in both of those losses, Lafayette overcame deficits with crooked-run innings and Danville failed to answer after either inning.
On Saturday, Quincy was able to score six runs in four innings and the only crooked-number inning for the Gems, three runs in third, was followed by a six-run inning for the Dans, which was highlighted by Bachelieer's opposite-field homer.
"I thought our guys showed character with the way that we bounced back after those last two losses to Lafayette,'' Coleman said. "And I was really proud of our guys because every time that Quincy scored, we came back and scored. We kept building upon our lead.''
Bachelier, who came into Saturday's game with no RBIs in his first four games with the Dans, quickly changed that stat with an opposite-field double off the left-field fence to score Santino Rivera, capping a four-run first inning for Danville.
"I started to job, because I didn't see the ball at first,'' said Bachelier admitting that he thought it was a home run. "All of the sudden, I saw it kick back and I quickly realized that it hadn't gone out.''
He took care of that in his next at-bat. This time, Bachelier cleared the left-field fence for his first homer of the summer.
So, why did both extra-base hits go to the opposite field?
"They were both outside and low,'' he said. "I love that. I just hit it hard both times and the second one went over the fence.''
So far this season, the Dans have hit homers in six of nine contests and Danville is now 5-1 when it homers.
"I knew we were going to be more physical this summer,'' said Coleman, who is known for his running game. "We are still going to get our running game tonight, but we are being aggressive at the plate and we are hunting fastballs.
"Our philosophy is still to get them on, get them over and get them in, but if we can do it a few times with the home run, that's works just as well.''
The Dans will attempt to conclude the week with a .500 record with a win today at home against the Normal CornBelters.
"Our goal is to win every week,'' Coleman said. "We can't do that this week, but finishing at .500 is better than losing the week.''
Normal, which is in its first season of the Prospect League, is making its only regular-season appearance at Danville Stadium today. First pitch between the CornBelters and the Dans is set for 4:30 p.m.
Both teams will sending right-handers from Eastern Illinois University to the mound this afternoon. Normal is going with Tyler Jones, who is 0-0 with a 5.78 ERA in one start; while Danville will counter with Blake Malatestinic, who is 0-2 with an 8.52 ERA in two starts this summer.
Both Jones and Malatestinic played this past spring for the Panthers, who are under the direction of former Danville standout Jason Anderson.
DANS ON DECK
Final score — Danville Dans 18, Quincy Gems 6
Key player — Outfielder Marcel Bachelier went 2-for-5 with an RBI double in the first inning and a 2-run homer in the third for the Dans.
Up next — The Dans conclude the week with its first Sunday home game of the year as Danville will host the Normal Cornbelters for a 4:30 p.m. contest at Danville Stadium.
Probable starters — Danville: RHP Blake Malatestinic (0-2, 8.52 ERA); Normal: RHP Tyler Jones (0-0, 5.78 ERA).
Promotion — Silver Sunday. All fans age 60 and older get in for just $3, compliments of Deer Creek Manor.