Dans Comeback Win Is A Butter-Burger Bash

June 13, 2021

Danville staring pitcher Hayden Birdsong (Eastern Illinois) found himself in unfamiliar territory Sunday night. In his first three starts, he was 2-0, giving up just five earned runs in 15 innings while striking out 21.

Sunday against the Illinois Valley Pistol Shrimp, he allowed six earned runs in just 2.1 innings. But despite being down 6-1, the Dans didn’t give up.

They scored three in the 5th on RBI double by Johnathon Thomas (Houston) and RBI singles by Keenan Taylor (Butler) and Danny Becerra (Towson).

The Dans bullpen of Kade Snell (Auburn), Jaxson Forrester (Mississippi State) and Jake Leger (Iowa Western CC) held the Pistol Shrimp scoreless the rest of the game to bring up the bottom of the 9th.

After Dustin Allen (San Diego) walks, Cooper McMurray (Kansas) hits a pinch-hit 2-run bomb over the right field fence to tie the game. Then with two outs, Taylor advances to first on a hit-by-pitch. He then comes around to score on a Tony Castonguay (Kansas) double for the 7-6 final.

The Dans are back in action Tuesday against Alton River Dragons. Two-Buck Tuesday’s first pitch is 6:30 pm.

Tough Night For Dans

June 4, 2021

The Danville Dans tried to regain first place in the Wabash River Division on Friday against the Lafayette Aviators.

But the Dans could not keep up as they lost 10-6 to the Aviators at Loeb Stadium.

Ben Higgins had two hits with a home run and two RBIs for Danville, while Keenan Taylor had two hits and a RBI, Johnathon Thomas and Tony Castonguay each had one RBI and Jason Ali had two hits.

Jackson Nichols took the loss for the Dans, getting four strikeouts and giving up seven runs on eight hits in four innings. Nick Constantine had three strikeouts in four innings of relief.

The Dans have lost three in a row and will try to break that streak on Saturday against the Aviators at 6:30 p.m. at Danville Stadium. The same two teams will face each other again on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

Danville Dans News

Dans fall to Aviators again

The Danville Dans tried to regain first place in the Wabash River Division on Friday against the Lafayette Aviators.

But the Dans could not keep up as they lost 10-6 to the Aviators at Loeb Stadium.

Ben Higgins had two hits with a home run and two RBIs for Danville, while Keenan Taylor had two hits and a RBI, Johnathon Thomas and Tony Castonguay each had one RBI and Jason Ali had two hits.

Jackson Nichols took the loss for the Dans, getting four strikeouts and giving up seven runs on eight hits in four innings. Nick Constantine had three strikeouts in four innings of relief.

The Dans have lost three in a row and will try to break that streak on Saturday against the Aviators at 6:30 p.m. at Danville Stadium. The same two teams will face each other again on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

Posted 19 weeks ago

Dang! Dans fall out of first place

The Danville Dans and the Lafayette Aviators fought for first place in the Wabash River Division in the Prospect League on Thursday.

The Dans found themselves down 12-1 after the fourth inning and while they tried to come back, they ended up losing 14-8 and fell a ½ game behind the Aviators.

Ben Higgins had two hits with two RBIs for Danville, while Sam Bianco and Winston Parke each had two hits and a RBI, Oliver Dunn had two RBIs, Tony Castonguay had a RBI and Cooper McMurray had three hits.

Cole Heath took the loss, going 2 2/3 innings with two strikeouts and giving up five hits and six runs.

Tanner Craig had three hits with two home runs and seven RBIs for the Aviators.

Posted 19 weeks ago

DANS LOOKING FOR HOST FAMILIES

We all missed going to Danville Stadium and enjoying a Danville Dans game last summer. The good news is that Dans baseball is back for 2021. But we are still in need of host families to house the players. 

“The Danville area is known for its hospitality,” said Danville Dans managing partner Jeanie Cooke. “We’re asking families to again volunteer to house these college kids for the summer season.”

The Dans team is a member of the Prospect League, one of the premier college summer leagues in the nation. Baseball players from California, Texas, Kansas, Louisiana and points in between come to Danville to improve their pitching, fielding skills and hitting with wood bats. 

“These players start off as just a houseguest, but overtime become part of the family. The memories and relationships host families make with their ‘guest sons’ are invaluable and will last a lifetime,” Cooke noted. Host families have visited their Dan in college, watched them make it to the major leagues, and even attended their wedding. “A Dan that lived with me one summer still calls me every Mother’s Day,” said Cooke with a smile.

Host families receive two free season tickets and are invited to host-family events during the season. They are also recognized during Host Family Night at the end of the season. Hosts provide living accommodations and some meals but do not have to provide transportation for their Dan.

“If you have some young baseball fans that would like a big brother for a summer, or you’re an empty nester looking for a two-month house guest, the Danville Dans can use you,” noted Cooke. You can contact host family coordinator Chris Jaruseski at 217-918-0996 or email her at mikeandchrisj@comcast.net.

And who knows, your summer house guest may become a major league all-star in the next few years.

For more information about the Danville Dans, visit our website, www.DanvilleDans.com

Posted 22 weeks ago

Danville Dans Partners With Clear Gear For FanSafe Initiative

The Danville Dans is thrilled to announce a partnership with Clear Gear Disinfectant Spray, making the EPA-registered, non-bleach disinfectant that kills COVID-19, MRSA/staph, influenza and many other infectious diseases, its Official Disinfectant of the Danville Dans in support of its new FanSafe initiative.

The FanSafe program features infection prevention and safety measures for players, officials, staff and fans. The Dans will follow an infection prevention protocol using Clear Gear. Prior to each game, staff will disinfect high-touch fan areas such as rails and counters, as well as team areas such as dugouts and locker rooms. Players and officials will also disinfect their equipment, uniforms and footwear with Clear Gear.

Clear Gear Disinfectant Spray is a one-step disinfectant that kills 99.9% of germs while also eliminating odors. Since it contains no bleach, alcohol or ammonia, Clear Gear is non-corrosive to the wide range of gear, equipment, surfaces and facilities it’s used on. It also leaves no harsh noxious fumes behind like products containing bleach or ammonia do. The spray is a popular choice of athletes and sports teams, from peewee to pros, as well as schools, youth athletic organizations and gyms for infection prevention and destroying odors.

“We are honored to help support the Danville Dans and their FanSafe initiative,” said Clear Gear CEO Allyson Delius. “Getting back to sports in a safe manner is important to both athletes and fans. Team Clear Gear is thrilled to be part of the solution to keep America participating in its favorite pastime – playing and watching baseball!”

“We are proud to announce this unique partnership between our league members and Clear Gear to launch the FanSafe initiative,” Prospect League Commissioner Dennis Bastien said. “We hope that this adds another layer of assurance for our fans this upcoming season, as Clear Gear is proven and recognized as a leading disinfectant. We tip our caps to the fine folks at Clear Gear for recognizing the impact that additional comfort has in upholding our efforts to maintain the highest level of protection for our great fans in all of our ballparks across the league.”

Posted 30 weeks ago

Prospect League Launches 'Name the Conferences' Contest

The Prospect League announced a “Name the Conferences” contest Thursday, giving fans the opportunity to submit ideas and put their mark on the league.

With the addition of four new teams to its lineup for 2021, the Prospect League has realigned into two conferences, each with two divisions. The eastern-most conference’s divisions are named “East” and “West”, while the western-most conference’s divisions are “North” and “South”. The league is asking fans to help it name the two conferences.

Fans interested in participating should [CLICK HERE] to enter. Conference name submissions will be accepted through March 31. A committee designated by the Prospect League will select a winner for each conference and notify winners April 15.

Winners will receive a Prospect League Privilege Pass, granting the winner and one guest free entry to any league game throughout 2021, a prize pack from Prairie Farms Dairy, as well as a league cap and shirt.

Posted 30 weeks ago

2021 Schedule Announced

The Prospect League, home to elite collegiate baseball players from across the country, released its 2021 game schedule. Each team will play a 60-game regular-season in the summer collegiate wood-bat league, opening Thursday, May 27. Danville Dans’s schedule is as follows.

MAY/JUNE

JULY/AUGUST

The schedule is designed to give players a taste of what it’s like to play minor league baseball. Traveling by charter bus and playing 60 games in just under 70 days in high-quality venues and in front of enthusiastic crowds provides a truly professional experience.


Having last played in 2019, the Prospect League lineup looks a bit different in 2021 with the addition of four new members and five new markets with the Alton River Dragons (Alton, Ill.), Johnstown Mill Rats (Johnstown, Pa.), Burlington Bees (Burlington, Iowa), and Clinton LumberKings (Clinton, Iowa). The O’Fallon Hoots will get to play their first season in the Prospect League after moving to O’Fallon, Mo., following the 2019 season. Additionally, the DuPage Pistol Shrimp will play as the Illinois Valley Pistol Shrimp.

“For the first time in league history, 16 teams will take the field on Opening Night,” said Prospect League commissioner Dennis Bastien. “We look forward to providing all of our fans, in all 16 cities, with the finest in summer collegiate baseball and family entertainment.”

For the purposes of playoffs, Prospect League teams are divided into two conferences with two divisions within each conference. The Eastern Conference includes the Champion City Kings (Springfield, Ohio), Chillicothe Paints (Chillicothe, Ohio), Johnstown Mill Rats, and West Virginia Miners (Beckley, W.Va.) in one division and the Danville Dans (Danville, Ill.), Illinois Valley Pistol Shrimp, Lafayette Aviators (Lafayette, Ind.), and REX Baseball (Terre Haute, Ind.) in the other. The Western Conference includes the Burlington Bees, Clinton LumberKings, Normal CornBelters (Normal, Ill.), and Quincy Gems (Quincy, Ill.) in one division and the Alton River Dragons, Cape Catfish (Cape Girardeau, Mo.), O'Fallon Hoots, and Springfield Sliders (Springfield, Ill.) in the other.

The 2021 season also brings a return to split-season play, with division winners at the end of the first half of the season advancing to a one-game divisional championship August 5. Divisional champions advance to play a one-game conference championship August 7. Both conference champions advance to play one another in the best-of-three Prospect League Championship Series. Game one is August 9 and, after a travel day, game two and, if necessary, game three are August 11 and 12.

“Every fan should look forward to watching their team’s season unfold this summer,“ Bastien added. "See you at the ballpark!”

Posted 30 weeks ago

Ten-run seventh carries Danville past Springfield

BY BRIAR NAPIER sports@dancomnews.com

Friday night’s Prospect League matchup between the Danville Dans and the Springfield Sliders turned into a test of who was going to blink first.

Both pitching rotations were dealing their way around every hitter, out of every jam and through a plethora of other situations entering the latter stages of the game, with simultaneous shutouts being thrown from each pitching staff going up until the sixth inning.

But in baseball, it often takes just a few fortunate plays to shift the tide in a team’s favor.

On this night, that shift went in the Dans favor en route to a 15-2 win.

Alabama senior-to-be Walker McCleney broke a five-inning drought of Dans reaching base after being hit by a pitch in the sixth, while Max Jung-Goldberg sent him home from second base two batters later to break the deadlock.

But it was Danville’s monster seventh inning that showcased what the Dans do best as the league’s best-hitting club: scoring runs and capitalizing on opponent mistakes. Four errors and shaky pitching from the Sliders cost them dearly as Danville sent a total of 14 batters to the plate in a 10-run inning.

That type of offensive firepower — in addition to some upstart pitching — is why the Dans are sitting pretty atop the Prospect League at the moment and why head coach Eric Coleman believes they have a shot for a special season.

“It’s a long way to go, but I think that we’re one of the best teams in the league,” Coleman said. “It was a good pitcher who just kept us off balance early … but once we get in people’s bullpens, we’re going to take advantage of it. Putting up a crooked number is always nice.”

The most emphatic of Danville’s 12 hits on the night came from Towson senior-to-be and first baseman Brad Powers, whose grand slam in the eighth inning turned a nine-run lead into 13.

What’s more is that the homer came from a set of unlikely circumstances.

Powers’s bat slipped wildly out of his hands earlier in the at-bat, in addition to him saying that he didn’t think he got a good swing on the run-scoring hit

“I hit it kind of like a nine-iron,” he said.

Nonetheless, one of the league’s best all-around hitters cleared the right field wall for his sixth home run of the year. But Powers credited it more to a calming habit of his, rather than his impressive talent.

“This might sound a little silly, but I chew gum at the plate and it helps me relax a little bit,” Powers said. “Considering that my sweaty hands let go of the bat the pitch before, I was like, ‘Nah, I’m not going to look like an idiot here.’ When I’m relaxed, I see pitches better … and small things like that in baseball can make a big difference.”

Coleman also praised another strong pitching performance from the Danville rotation. Starter Tanner Green and reliever Will Morrison each went four innings and allowed a combined seven hits while Cypress College junior-to-be Trevor Thompson hurled a hitless ninth inning to seal the deal.

It’s been an impressive week thus far for the Dans’ pitching staff: Danville struck out 20 Terre Haute Rex batters in a home win Tuesday, then notched their first shutout of the summer in the back-half of a doubleheader sweep at the Champion City Kings on Wednesday.

If the pitching form stays and gets anywhere near Danville’s talent at the plate — they’re league leaders in batting average, runs and runs batted in — the Dans are going to be a dangerous team as the end of the summer winds down.

“You never know, it’s still early,” Powers said. “We have everything set up for something special to happen, we’ve just got to make it happen. It’s easy to say that it’s going to happen, but then something bad happens. We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing. Staying focused, staying confident and having fun.”

Posted 119 weeks ago

Dans win 8th straight at Danville Stadium

BY CHAD DARE, COMMERCIAL-NEWS
PHOTOS BY SUSAN JOY MCKINNEY, COMMERCIAL-NEWS
SUBSCRIBE TODAY

Success didn’t happen right away for Danville Dans center fielder Walker McCleney.

The senior-to-be from the University of Alabama had to endure a 2-for-28 slump in his first 15 games with the Dans, but McCleney’s smile and good-natured attitude never wavered.

McCleney extended his hitting streak to three games with a 2-for-2 performance with two walks and two runs scored during Danville’s 7-2 victory over the Hannibal Hoots before a season-best crowd of 3,827 at Danville Stadium.

“It took me a little while to get into the groove,’’ said McCleney, who has six hits in his last eight at-bats. “I have worked with (coach Jack) Murphy a little bit in the cages and he has helped me a lot.

“Baseball is a game where you fail a lot. You have to keep your head on your shoulder and keep your head up. Every day is a new day.’’

RJ Kuruts, who was the winning pitcher for the Dans on Tuesday night, admitted that the Danville Dans players are really proud of the way that he worked through his early-season slump.

“Seeing what he is doing now is amazing,’’ Kuruts said. “We knew that start wasn’t Walker. Now, we are seeing the Walker that we expected to see all year.’’

Danville Dans manager Eric Coleman echoed the sentiments of his right-handed pitcher.

“We continued to run him out and now, he is swinging a hot bat,’’ Coleman said. “He found his swing and got his confidence back.

“Walker can obviously play really good defense for us and he can run a little bit. It’s good to see him doing well.’’

While McCleney’s confidence might have been tested a little in the first three weeks of the Prospect League season, his swagger never left, especially on Tuesday night as he wore a very large, fake gold chain around his neck.

And after his triple in the eight inning, McCleney showed it off to his teammates in the third-base dugout.

“It’s the chain. You have to be swaggy and confident at the plate,’’ he said.

And where exactly did he get this chain.

“Marcel (Bachelier) came up to me today and said that they got this chain at Spencer’s, and did I want to wear it,’’ McCleney said. “I definitely was going to wear it.

“My neck is turning green. It’s definitely not real, but it is heavy.’’

But, neither the chain nor an early-season hitting slump was going to force McCleney into lowering his head.

“It was tough and it gets into your head a little bit, but you can’t let it get you down,’’ he said. “If it does — you will keep doing poorly. You have to take very day like its a new day.

“Now, you just want to keep putting together good at-bats. That is the main thing for me, I want to have fun and find barrels.’’

Having fun and find barrels are two things that this group of Danville Dans continue to do this season, especially at the friendly confines of Danville Stadium.

Max Jung-Goldberg got the offense going in the first inning. The left-handed leadoff hitter for the Dans drilled a solo home run over the center field fence as part of a four-run first inning for Danville.

“That set the tone,’’ Coleman said. “I think (Jung-Goldberg) is one of the better players in this lead and he did a good job of getting us on the board. When we score first, we are tough to beat.

“He got us lead and we didn’t look back from there.’’

The Dans (15-5) added three more runs — two coming on a single by Ryan Archibald and another on a run-scoring single by Cade Brown.

A four-run lead was more than enough for Kuruts, who struck out five in five-plus innings as he improved to 3-0.

“After that, I knew that I could just attack the zone,’’ Kuruts said. “With our team, you know that they got 4 in the first inning and they are not going to stop there. That really helps a pitching staff’s confidence. We know that we have an offense that can produce runs on any given night.’’

Coleman pointed out that Kuruts also deserves a great deal of credit for holding Hannibal to just one run — a solo home run by Jared Wegner in the sixth inning.

“RJ is just a bulldog,’’ Coleman said. “He competes in the zone and he throws strikes. (Tanner) Green and (Joe) Panella followed him and did the same thing. It was a good team win.’’

Green threw three shutout innings, while Panella allowed one run in the ninth.

The Dans, who own the best record in the Prospect League, are now 9-2 in games at Danville Stadium.

“Our philosophy is that we have to protect our house and we stand behind that,’’ said Kuruts. “And tonight it was a great showing by the fans. We hope to give them more good wins like tonight.’’

McCleney acknowledged the big crowd and the Blackhawks Band with the help of the First Gig Rock-n-Roll Campers played a positive role for the Dans.

“That was cool. It got everyone pumped up,’’ he said. “The loud music from the bad was great and it was fun seeing everyone come out to the ballpark.

“Honestly, it makes you want to play harder. We wanted to put on a good show for them.’’

Posted 121 weeks ago

Successful road trip for Dans

Playing five games in five days on the road was a daunting task for the Danville Dans this past week.

But after a rainout and the team’s first loss in 13 days this past Thursday, Danville finished its journey with three straight victories over the West Virginia.

The last of those coming on Sunday as six pitchers combined to strike out 12 Miners in the Dans 8-1 triumph before 555 at Epling Field.

Left-hander starter Dawson Sweatt, a redshirt freshman-to-be from Auburn, went the first four innings for Danville. He allowed no runs on three hits, while walking four and striking out five.

He was followed by five relievers — each of whom went one inning.

Blake Malatestinic, a junior-to-be from Eastern Illinois, was credited with the victory after a scoreless inning of relief in the fifth. Also coming up with a scoreless inning were Stone Parker, Jackson Kelley and Ryan Patel.

Trevor Thompson, who did surrender Danville’s only run, and Patel each struck out a pair of West Virginia batters, while the other three each had a single strikeout in their inning.

The Dans got all the offense they would need in the first inning on a two-run homer by Aidan Malm, a senior-to-be from Long Beach State. It was Malm’s second homer this season.

Danville added three more runs in the second, a single tally in the fourth and two runs in the sixth.

One of the bright spots for the Dans was center fielder Walker McCleney, who ended the trip with a pair of 2-hit games against West Virginia. The senior-to-be from the University of Alabama has also scored six runs in his last two contests.

The Dans return to Danville Stadium tonight for a 6:30 p.m. contest against the Hannibal Hoots, who are managed by Danville Area Community College coach Clayton Hicks.

Posted 121 weeks ago

Dans score franchise record 28 runs to beat Aviators

Story By Chad Dare | Photos by  Deb Edwards | Commercial-News

No doubt about it, the Danville Dans have had the best offense during the first two weeks of the Prospect League season.

On Tuesday night, Danville flexed its muscles a little bit against the Lafayette Aviators with a 28-5 triumph before 1,762 at Danville Stadium.

And it was a record-setting night for the Dans (7-4).

The 28 runs is both a Dans record during the 11-year Prospect League era, but it’s also an all-time franchise record for the Dans.

The previous best in the Prospect League era was 19 against the Springfield Sliders on July 3, 2012.

Before Tuesday, the franchise record for the Dans was 21, set on July 9, 2005 against the Springfield Rifles and again on Aug. 6, 2007 against the DuPage Dragons.

“I cannot ever remember being a part of a team that scored 28 runs,” said Danville first baseman Brad Powers, who went 2-for-4 with five RBIs. “Maybe in little league.”

The other record that Danville set on Tuesday night was its 11-run fourth inning. No Danville team had ever scored double-digits in an inning during the 11-year history of the Prospect League.

But, the Dans did fall short of the franchise record, which is 16 set in the Aug. 6, 2007 game against the DuPage Dragons in Lisle.

“I can reflect on those at the end of the summer. I get enough gratification just getting the win over Brent (McNeil),” said Danville manager Eric Coleman, referring to the Lafayette manager, who was his pitching coach for Coleman and the Dans back in 2014. “They have a really good team over there and we are going to have some fun battles all summer with them.”

On Tuesday, that enjoyment was definitely one-sided.

Danville actually scored in every inning but the fifth, and the Dans had a four-run first, the 11-run fourth and a eight-run eighth inning.

“When you are able to put up crooked numbers in three innings … you have a pretty good chance of winning,” said Coleman. “Our guys came in with the right mindset after a day off. This is my sixth season, and teams have not always handled that off day very well.

"Today, we came back to work and put up 28 runs.”

And Coleman credited hitting coach Jack Murphy for his work with the Danville Dans batters, who lead the league in average (.306), runs (109), hits (115), homers (14), RBIs (89) and walks (71).

One of the most important of those statistics could be the walks as Danville drew 14 base on balls on Tuesday night and the Dans turned them into 11 runs.

“We are just relaxed at the plate,” said Powers, who drew three of the walks. “We are pretty good hitters and that’s all about discipline. We are just looking for a good pitch to hit.

"That’s what I’m doing and that’s what a lot of our hitters are doing right now. It’s just good disciplined hitting.”

But, what was most impressive about that is that Danville drew five of those walks after building its double-digit lead instead of swinging for the fences.

“We have had the right approach,” Coleman said. “There is a reason why we lead the league in hitting. Coach Murphy has done a great job with our hitters, but we need to keep getting better.”

Powers capped Danville’s 11-run fourth inning with the team’s first grand slam of the summer. The blast came after he struck out swinging for the second out in the inning.

“I was just a little out in front of everything on that first at-bat,” he said. “On my next at-bat, I tried to take a better approach, but I was still a little ahead. I got down 0-2 and then I finally sat back and got a hold of one.”

Those final four runs were part of the 10 runs that Danville scored with two outs in the inning and all 11 runs were unearned. It was a definitely avalanche of runs against the Aviators.

“Hopefully, we can keep it going,” Powers said. “It’s just as easy to get on the wrong side of an avalanche and have no one hitting.

"We just need to keep taking good approaches to the plate and doing our jobs.”

The offense wasn’t the only impressive part of the game for the Dans.

Starter RJ Kuruts improved to 2-0 as he went five innings, allowing five hits, one run — it was unearned — while walking one and striking out four.

Additionally, Danville got two shutout innings of relief from Jesse Wainscott and Kohl Simas, making his Danville debut, struck out four in 1.1 innings.

Posted 123 weeks ago