DANVILLE — The Danville Dans and the Chillicothe Paints met Thursday to determine who would represent the East Division in the 2019 Prospect League World Series.
Just like their first meeting of the season over a week ago, the game was a pitchers duel. And like that game, the teams combined for just seven hits.
Dueling one of the best pitching staffs in the league in the Paints, the Dans were able to hold their own against the Paints three-headed monster made of Austin Calopietro, Jack Raines and Nate Haugh. Danville’s starter Kaleb Hill and all-star reliever Ryan Patel limited the Paints to just one earned run.
“Our pitching has been our trademark all summer. I thought Kaleb gave us a chance to win. There is a reason Ryan proved why he is an all-star,” Dans manager Eric Coleman said. “I could not be more proud of how they played tonight.”
But the difference in the game was something the Dans could not control. After losing both of their primary catchers meer days before the game, the Dans had to turn to LSU infielder Gavin Dugas behind the plate.
And that was all the Paints needed. They were able to take advantage of mistakes from the inexperienced Dugas to get a 3-1 win and advance to the Prospect League Championship series.
“It was just one of those things that happen in summer ball,” Coleman said. “Gavin did a good job, I cannot complain about what he did. He stepped up for us. It is just one of those things that happen, it did not go the way we wanted.”
It did not take long for the Paints to find an opportunity.
A pair of walks to Cody Orr and Gavin Homer led to the Paints stealing a run. With the speedy Orr on second base, the Paints challenge the untested Dugas. With Orr taking off for third base, Dugas airmailed his throw — allowing Orr to score.
Another walk to Cole Andrews made the inning look worrisome for the Dans. Needing a big play the Dans got just that. First baseman Ryan Archibald snagged a hard-hit line drive from Trey Smith and was able to catch Andrews sleeping after stepping on the bag to double him up.
Left-fielder Max Jung-Goldberg might not have stepped to the plate looking to tie up the game. Possibly to his surprise, he did just that.
After evening the count with 1-1 with Paints starter Calopietro, Goldberg found his pitch and barrelled it up. Soaring high in the sky, it did not take long for the ball to find its way over the 350-foot right-centerfield fence, tying the game 1-1.
It did not take long for the Paints to capitalize on another mistake, however. Standing on third after a triple, Homer was able to come around after a ball from Hill got passed Dugas. The Paints tacked on another run after a Dugas passed ball in the ninth inning, giving the Paints the 3-1 lead.
With the Prospect League World Series on the line, the Paints brought in reliever of the year candidate Nate Haugh to close the game out.
Haugh lived up to the hype by striking out the side. Haugh’s three strikeouts capped off the Paints’ 16-strikeout game.
“They kept us off-balanced. We were able to hit some balls hard just not far enough. They have a good pitching staff and we had a good battle. They were just able to take this one,” Coleman said.
The World Series will open with the Cape Catfish traveling to Chillicothe on Saturday and the final two games Monday and Tuesday at Cape Girardeau, Mo.