Danville Dans Baseball

Danville Dans rack up 10 runs, 15 hits in win over Gems

By Chad Dare, Commercial-News

According to Danville Dans manager Eric Coleman, it was only a matter of time.

He’s spent the first two weeks of the Prospect League season wondering when he was going some of the big-time bats into the Dans lineup.

This weekend, Matt Holcombe from Louisiana Tech and Mason Irby have made their debuts for Danville and the results have been very positive — 19 runs and 27 hits in back-to-back victories.

“We’re excited that they are here,’’ Coleman said. “And we’re not done. We still have six more players still coming.’’

After Holcombe had the big offensive night on Friday, it was Irby’s turn on Saturday.

Photo by Greg Flint, Commercial-News 

The junior-to-be from Jones County Junior College went 4-for-4 at the plate and he drove in four runs, tying the season-high of James Battley.

“He is a special player,’’ said Coleman. “That’s why he is going to Soutern Miss next year. That’s why he is a (NJCAA) Division II All-American. He is a national champion, and he knows how to win. I’m glad he is on my team.’’

Irby, a left-hander batter from Meridian, Miss., went 3-for-3 against Quincy left-hander Aaron Stone with a RBI single in the first and a two-run single in the fourth.

“Those were solid at-bats against a good left-handed pitcher,’’ Coleman said. “But Irby can swing it. I think he is going to have a great summer and a great future at Southern Miss.’’

Irby was a little late joining the Dans, but he had a pretty good reason.

The Jones County Junior College Bobcats rallied to win four straight to claim the NJCAA Division II National Title on June 4 with a 7-1 win over GateWay of Arizona.

“Yes, sir, it’s been a pretty good month,’’ he said. “And it really ended well at school.

“Coming out here, I’m just looking at keeping it going and stay on the same winning track.’’

But even with being a NJCAA Divsiion II All-American and signed to play next year at Southern Miss, he is quick to point out that he still has room for improvement.

“I’m going to be moving from junior college to Division I, and that’s a level that I haven’t been at before,’’ he said. “I want to keep improving at the plate and being an outfielder. I’ve only played outfield for one season and I know that I need to keep improving out there.’’

One thing that Irby already does well is drive in runs. He was eighth in NJCAA Division II baseball with 76 RBIs this spring, so it should come as no surprise that he was 3-for-3 with runners in scoring position on Saturday night.

“I love hitting with runners on base,’’ he said. “That’s my thing. I kind of like the pressure of trying to drive home runs.

“That’s what I play for. I enjoy it.’’

Irby’s big night was part of a 10-run night for the Dans against the Gems, who currently lead the Prospect League’s West Division by 1 game over Springfield and Terre Haute, while Danville is just 1.5 games back.

“We showed that we swing the bats and play with anybody,’’ Coleman said

Posted 49 weeks ago

Congrats to “Bestest” Sports Writer

The Danville Dans say “congratulations!” to sports writer Chad Dare… or should we say award-winning sports writer Chad Dare!

As the Sports Editor for the Commercial-News, Dare recently won three first-place awards from the Associated Press:

  • Sports Features
  • Sports Breaking News
  • Sports Feature Photo

He also was awarded two second place awards (Sports Breaking News and Sports Features) and a third (Sports Column.)

Chad is not only the “local sports guy,” but he is truly a member of the Danville Dan family. We couldn’t be more proud!

Posted 49 weeks ago

Holcombe, Irby help Danville Dans snap losing streak

by Chad Dare, Commercial-News 

Being the new guy in school or on a team can be an awkward experience.

But that wasn’t the case on Friday night for Matt Holcombe of Louisiana Tech or Mason Irby from Jones County Junior College.

The Danville Dans needed some new bodies, and most important, fresh players after suffering a pair of extra-inning losses on Thursday night during a 19-hour odyssey to Hannibal, Mo. and back.

Holcombe and Irby played important roles as Danville snapped its losing streak with a 9-2 victory over the Lafayette Aviators at Danville Stadium.

“We got in pretty late,’’ said Danville manager Eric Coleman, noting that the bus got back from Hannibal at 4:30 a.m. “That shows the character of this team, that we were able to bounce back and get a win tonight.

“It also helped that we have new guys here tonight and two of them contributed right away. They helped to get the offense going.’’

Holcombe didn’t waste any time showing his new manager and teammates why he was brought to Danville.

The junior from Louisiana Tech blasted the first pitch he saw from Lafayette starter Steven Skolarz into right field, driving home James Battley with the game’s first run with a sacrifice fly.

“Coach Kyle (Grieshaber) got us ready today to hit the fastball,’’ said Holcombe of the team’s hitting coach, who was also making he debut with the team. “It was right there. I knew with a guy on third base, and less than two outs, it was a good time to drive the ball and get a sacrifice fly.’’

Holcombe followed that at-bat with a pair of singles in the third and fifth innings and then he got his second RBI of the night with another sacrifice fly in the seventh, giving the Dans a 7-2 lead. He finished his night with a groundout in the three-run eighth inning.

“That’s why we brought him here,’’ Coleman said. “He can flat out hit and drive in runs. He did it at Louisiana Tech. He did it in junior college and he’s basically done that for all of his life.

“He is a middle of the lineup type of guy and he did exactly what we needed him to do tonight.’’

Irby wasn’t quite as successful, but the NJCAA Division II junior college All-American went 1-for-5 with a run scored in the fifth inning.

“Mason also got into the mix a little,’’ Coleman said. “Having those two guys makes us more potent offensively, and Mason is going to be another weapon in our running game.

“Having both of these guys just reaffirms what we want to do. It gives everyone more opportunities, and it lengthens our lineup. If we can execute and do our job, those guys are going to have a lot RBIs at the end of the year.’’

While Coleman was definitely pleased with their production, just having two new guys in the lineup after Thursday was more important.

The Dans (7-6) were playing two pitchers in the field at the end of the second game against Cavemen.

“We were just doing what we could,’’ Coleman said. “We’ve still got a few more guys to get into town, but this was a step in the right direction.’’

Holcombe admitted there were a lot of open arms when he got to the stadium on Friday.

“They were making jokes right away,’’ Holcombe said. “All I know if that my roommate got into the house at 5 a.m. and I was already there, sleeping.

“Once, I got here to the park, you couldn’t tell they had spent all day on the bus after two tough losses. They were just eager to get back to work.’’

That was also the mindset for Holcombe, but for a different reason.

Posted 49 weeks ago

Temporary player earns full-time shot with Danville Dans

Exert by Chad Dare, Commercial-News @chaddare

BIn four games as a temporary player with the Danville Dans this summer, Andrew Curran went 8-for-17 at the plate.

So, when he left town a week ago, manager Eric Coleman told Curran that if the opportunity presented itself, he would love to have the former Illinois Central College infielder back on the roster.

With a roster spot open and a hamstring injury to shortstop Grant Mayeaux on Tuesday night, Coleman called Curran and offered him an opportunity to be a full-time player.

Photo by Matt Huber, Commercial-News 

The St. Joseph, Mo., native was back in Danville on Wednesday night, going 3-for-3 at the plate and Curran scored the game-winning run in the Dans 3-2 victory over the Hannibal Cavemen at Danville Stadium.

“There is a reason that we brought him back,’’ Coleman said. “He can swing the bat. I pushed the right button tonight and it worked. Hopefully, he can keep doing it for us.

“He is happy to be here and he wants to be here. That’s the type of kid that we want on our roster. I hated to see him leave a week ago.’’

Curran admitted that he wasn’t sure what he was going to do with his summer after he left Danville the first time around.

“Coach Coleman mentioned that he would bring me back, but I knew that something was going to have to happen for me to comeback,’’ Curran said. “It was kind of a domino effect.

“When he called me (Tuesday) night, I told him that I was looking forward to another opportunity.’’

The junior-to-be, who still doesn’t have a school set for next year, drove into town on Wednesday and found himself batting second in the lineup, playing second base.

“I was still hitting at home,’’ Curran said.

“I was still working to make sure that I was ready for any opportunity that came up for me.’’

And, that showed.

Curran got a hit in his very first at-bat. He followed that with a perfect executed sacrifice bunt and a single to right field. But his biggest at-bat came in the seventh with he laced a two-out double into the left-centerfield gap for a double.

Jordan Lucio, a senior-to-be from Butler University, followed with a double over the first-base bag to score Curran, giving the Dans a 3-2 lead, which turned into the winning run.

“It was a ball outside and I was just looking for something that I could make good contact with,’’ said Lucio, who was 1-for-4 in the victory. “Luckily it went right over the base.’’

Earlier in the game, Lucio had an opportunity to deliver an RBI as the Dans had runners on first and third with just one out. In that third inning at-bat, he grounded into a fielder’s choice with Trent Johnson being thrown out at the plate.

Danville failed to score in that frame.

“I felt like I was seeing the ball really well tonight, but I just missed that one,’’ said Lucio, who admitted that he wasn’t even thinking about that at-bat when he drove home the game-winning run. “We play so many games, that you need to have the same approach each time you go to the plate.

“Like I said, I was just looking for a ball that I could make good contact with, and hopefully, I could drive home the run.’’

Lucio admitted that it’s good having Curran back on the team.

Posted 49 weeks ago

Aviators fly past Dans

June 8, 2016
By Chad Dare, Commercial News 

When your team is scheduled to play 60 games in a span of 73 days, taking advantage of a day off is very important.

But for the Danville Dans, a day away for the ballpark turned out to be a bad thing.

Lafayette right-hander Walter Talcott combined with a pair of relievers to toss a four-hit shutout as the Aviators defeated the Danville Dans 9-0 on Tuesday night at Danville Stadium in front of a crowd of 2,163.

“The off day killed our bats,’’ said Danville infielder Josh Smith, who had one of his team’s four hits. “I think we were just dragging all around. We didn’t come ready to play.’’

And it proved to be a complete 180-degree turnaround from Sunday’s 10-6 win over Springfield. On that day, Danville pounded out 15 hits, including six for extra bases. Less than 48 hours later, the Dans (5-4) managed just three singles and one double, while they had 11 strikeouts and just one walk.

“You can’t do anything right when you don’t have the right personnel here,’’ said Danville manager Eric Coleman, who expects to have three new position players in town by Friday and he hopes to have all three players from St. Mary’s here by next week’s games. “These kids that we are putting on the field are all competitors. We still have to play better than what we did.

“We simply didn’t play well in front of a big crowd. Hopefully, we bounce back.’’

Collegiate baseball in the summer is definitely a learning experience for the players. That’s what Coleman hopes will come from Tuesday’s performance. His players agree.

“It’s a long season, and as a player, you appreciate the off day to rest, but you can’t take the day off completely off and expect to turn it back on the next day,’’ he said. “You need to do a better job of staying locked in.

“This was kind of s shock, but that’s baseball and it can happen anytime.’’

Talcott (2-1) also deserves a great deal of credit for his performance as he threw just 85 pitches — 61 strikes — in his seven innings. He didn’t walk a batter and he finished with eight strikeouts.

“Talcott did a really, really nice job,’’ said Lafayette manager Brett McNeil, who was the pitching coach for the Danville Dans in 2014. “We need guys to got out, go deep into games like and work efficiently.’’

Coleman said the biggest problem for the Dans was not making any adjustments.

“When you don’t make adjustments, you are going to get embarrassed at the plate,’’ he said. “We’ve got 51 more games this season. Hopefully, we have a better approach on Wednesday.

“We just came out flat. I hate days off when you come back and don’t play well. Their pitcher got us tonight.’’

McNeil wasn’t the only person associated with the Aviators that was making a return to Danville. Lafayette assistant coach Austin Bryant, was a player on the 2014 Danville team.

Read all Danville Dans coverage at Commercial-News.com

Posted 49 weeks ago

Gaines Named Prospect League “Pitcher of the Week”

For the week ending June 5, Pointstreak Sports Technologies and the Prospect League announce the Pitcher of the Week is Danville’s Ryan Gaines.

Gaines (Birmingham-Southern College) started the Dans’ June 3 game against DuPage and allowed just one unearned run over seven innings in Danville’s eventual 2-1 win. The Dunwoody, Ga., native gave up just five hits and struck out seven. 

Posted 50 weeks ago
Posted 50 weeks ago