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