Danville Dans Baseball

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By CHAD DARE cdare@dancomnews.com

Developing and refining your baseball skills is one of the main goals of the Prospect League season.

On Wednesday night, the Danville Dans not only made some progress as a team in a few areas, and right-handed starter Dustin Wilson showed his experiments with his pitching delivery are also moving forward.

Wilson went six innings, allowing four runs — only three earned — while striking out six and walking one to improve to 2-0 on the summer as the Dans defeated the Springfield Sliders 6-4 before 968 at Danville Stadium.

“I really wanted to go long, but I couldn’t do it with the pitch count,’’ said Wilson, who finished with 90 pitches — 59 of those were strikes. “I want to go out there and eat innings for my team.’’

Danville manager Eric Coleman called it a bulldog performance by Wilson, a senior-to-be from Eastern Illinois University.

“Really, his only mistake was one bad pitch and that’s baseball,’’ Coleman said. “He sped up the guys bat with a changeup.

“He will live and learn from that.’’

After being staked to a 6-1 lead with 3 runs in the first and second innings, Wilson was in cruise control until the fifth. With one out and two runners on base, Hanz Harker of the Sliders drilled a 3-run homer to right field, pulling Springfield to within 6-4.

“We still kept the lead and that was the main thing,’’ Coleman said.

Wilson, who looked a little differently on the mound during Wednesday’s game, finished the fifth with a pair of fly outs and he ended his outing with three straight strikeouts.

“I’ve been working on some stuff to find my rhythm and find a way to execute pitches consistently,’’ said Wilson, who featured a slight hesitation in his windup. “That’s the main thing that I’ve changed. It’s helping get my body in rhythm, and timing is super important.’’

That was never more evident than the pitch to Harker in the fifth.

“I was a little behind on that pitch and it turned into a 3-run homer,’’ he said.

Danville closer Jonah Ulane got the final four outs to record his fourth save of the summer, but it wasn’t without a little intrigue.

Ulane came into the contest with two outs in the eighth after the Sliders had loaded the bases against Danville reliever Clayton Slifer.

“It’s a stressful situation, but I have to pick Slifer up,’’ said Ulane, who got Springfield’s Ryan Fish to line out to shortstop Tucker Cascadden to end the inning.

While Ulane cleaned up a situation in the eighth, he created another one for himself in the ninth with a two-out walk and a double to right field. With the tying run standing on second base, the sophomore-to-be from Kansas struck out Springfield’s Troy Wehde to secure the victory.

“I just wanted to help the team get a win,’’ Ulane said. “I feel like I’m thriving in that role of being the closer.’’

Coleman admitted he followed a similar game plan to that of Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts with bringing Ulane into the game in the eighth inning.

“He’s our closer and it was an opportunity for a four-out save,’’ he said. “I’ve seen the Dodgers do that with (Kenley) Jansen and I have the utmost faith in him.’’

Wednesday’s game also showed improvement for the Danville Dans on the offensive side.

After missing numerous opportunities in a 7-3 loss to the Sliders in a game that was delayed for more than 2 hours because of the weather, the Dans came out on Wednesday night with a little better execution offensively.

Michael Rothmund’s RBI-double to center, which was just a few feet short of a 3-run homer, got things started. He scored one batter later on a two-run single from Mason Templet.

“I was seeing the ball really well from the start,’’ said Rothmund, who was 3-for-4 in the contest. “I saw that he (Hunter Hart) couldn’t get his offspeed over the plate for strikes, so I was sitting on the fastball the majority of the night.’’

Chris Colarossi delivered a two-run single in the second inning and Jim Govern capped the scoring for Danville with a sacrifice fly to right.

“It was better, but we still missed opportunities,’’ said Coleman, whose team was 4-of-7 at the plate with runners in scoring position. “We got six runs in the first two innings, but we can’t be satisfied. We need to keep plugging away. Six runs in this league is not always going to be enough.

“Fortunately, we had good enough pitching tonight and six runs proved to be enough.’’

Danville was without the services of four players on Wednesday night. Utility player Itchy Burts and outfielder Logan Carey were out with hand injuries, catcher Mason Doolittle was ill and utility play Cody Maloon was out of town.

Ironically, three former St. Joseph-Ogden players all pitched in Wednesday’s game.

Springfield’s starter was Hunter Hart, who took the loss, while he was relieved by Austin Whitlock, who threw two shutout innings, and the third former Spartan was Danville reliever Clayton Slifer, who got two outs in the eighth.

Posted 30 weeks ago
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BY BY CHAD DARE cdare@dancomnews.com
Subscribe to Commercial-News to catch all of Chad’s great coverage of local sports!

Photo by Susan Joy McKinney

It has been said that good things come in pairs.

But, that wasn’t the case for the Danville Dans on Tuesday night at Danville Stadium.

A pair of big innings for the Springfield Sliders sandwiched around a pair of rain delays made a long night seem even longer when Springfield moved into a first-place tie in the Prospect League’s West Division with a 7-3 victory over Danville.

“It was just two innings,” Danville manager Eric Coleman said. “We can’t give up crooked numbers. We gave up a four-spot and a three-spot and that’s the game.”

Zach Escheberger, the Prospect League’s Pitcher of the Week, actually threw it well again for the Dans (7-10). The left-hander struck out nine and didn’t walk a batter in 5.1 innings, but it was a 4-run, 4-hit third inning that saddled him with the loss, dropping the Henderson State product to 1-2 on the summer.

Back-to-back singles by Connor McMann and Steven Mandeville got things started for Springfield. Hanz Harker tied the game at 1-1 with a sacrifice fly to right field. McMann just barely beat the throw of Danville’s Logan Carey.

The Sliders took the lead for good on an RBI double by Garrett Taylor. Springfield’s lead increased to 4-1 on a 2-run homer to left by first baseman Grant Reuben.

Danville had a chance to overcome that one bad inning, but the Dans just missed too many chances.

In keeping with the theme of the night, it was a pair of Springfield double plays that thwarted scoring opportunities for Danville in the fourth and sixth innings.

“We basically left guys on third base with less than two outs,” Coleman said. “That’s two runs that we should have scored, and if we do, it would have been a different game.

"We could have had a 5-4 lead at the end of the sixth inning when the second rain delay came, instead of trailing 4-3 and then hoping that the rain stops.”

Not only did the Dans hit into a pair of double plays, but they also left eight runners on base — including six in scoring position.

“We need to do a better job of being consistent with our situational hitting,” Coleman said. “Our guys are getting too big and instead of just trying to ball in play to outfield — so that we can get a run — we are going for the really big hit and we are rolling over on a ball and hitting into double plays.

"If these guys don’t make the adjustments with their situational hitting, I will make it for them. They can sit next to me on the bench and I will put someone else out there and see what they can do when they are called upon.”

The offensive miscues became magnified in the seventh inning. After the second rain delay, which lasted about 45 minutes, Springfield took advantage of a couple of walks and hit-batsmen to score three insurance runs. Troy Wehde delivered the key two-out, 2-run single to put the finishing touches on the Sliders second straight win over the Dans.

“We need to compete in the zone and throw strikes,” Coleman said. “If the pitchers are not going to do that, they can also sit on the bench next to me.

"We gave up a 0-2 walk and I think we gave up a couple of 0-2 hits. We need to do a better job of getting in the zone and making good pitches in the zone.”

Tuesday’s game got off to a very interesting start after a 1 hour and 15 minute rain delay.

Springfield’s Alec Harris, a junior from Maryville University, was ejected before the first pitch. The right-handed pitcher attempted to win the standoff after the National Anthem. While Harris was the last one standing at attention he was subsequently thrown out of the game by home plate umpire Timothy Clark.

Harris was the first of two Springfield pitchers to get ejected on Tuesday night.

Relief pitcher Isaac Lueth, a junior from Bradley, was thrown out after getting Danville’s Tucker Cascadden to ground into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the sixth inning with the Dans trailing the Sliders 4-3. Lueth appeared to yell something at the Danville dugout, prompting Clark to throw him out of the contest.

Springfield starter Evan Stoll, a sophomore-to-be from Missouri, picked up the victory, improving to 1-0, as he went 5.1 innings, allowing three runs on five hits. The Sliders bullpen of Lueth, Evan Merchant and Cody Pazik threw 3.2 innings of shutout relief.

Posted 30 weeks ago


By CHAD DARE cdare@dancomnews.com
Subscribe to Commercial-News to catch all of Chad’s great coverage of local sports!

A week ago, Danville Dans manager Eric Coleman decided it was time to make a few changes with his pitching staff.

The fourth-year manager was very pleased after seeing his team win just one time in six games.

Left-hander Zach Escheberger spearheaded a turnaround this past week for the Dans (7-9) with his nine-inning complete game victory over the Quincy Gems on June 13. It was the first nine-inning complete game for Danville since C.J. Burdick in June of 2014.

On Monday, Escheberger was named the Prospect League’s Pitcher of the Week, while Terre Haute’s Nelson Muniz was named the Player of the Week.

“He really stepped up and gave us the type of performance that we needed to see from our pitchers,’’ Danville manager Eric Coleman said. “His school (Henderson State) is wanting him to be a big-time starter for them next year and he showed that he’s got that type of ability with nine strikeouts and no walks.’’

Danville went on to win two more games last week with a 8-4 extra-inning win over Lafayette on Thursday and a 7-6 triumph over Quincy on Saturday with rainouts on Wednesday and Friday, but the Dans couldn’t complete an undefeated week, losing to the Rex 12-5 on Sunday at Bob Warn Field.

“Going 3-1 is a good week, but we had a chance for a 4-0 week,’’ Coleman said. “I thought our pitching was good in the first three games, but we just didn’t have it on Sunday at Terre Haute.

“One thing I think we did see this past week is that we can swing the bats with 27 runs in four games.’’

Danville starter Alec Barger lasted just 1.1 innings on Sunday, giving up four runs on five hits; while Dustin Wilson was also saddled with four runs in 1.1 innings of relief. The Dans found themselves trailing 8-1 after just three innings and that was more than enough offense for Terre Haute starter Kaleb Huxford.

Muniz, who batted .458 with two home runs last week for the Rex, went 3-for-4 with one of those homers and three RBIs in Sunday’s win over Danville.

Also hitting a home run on Sunday was Danville first baseman Michael Rothmund. His sixth of the summer moves the standout from the University of Illinois-Springfield into third in the Prospect League.

The Dans will begin a very busy week, eight games in six days, tonight with a 6:30 p.m. contest at Danville Stadium against the Springfield Sliders, who are second in the Prospect League’s West Division with a 10-7 record.

“I told our guys on Sunday that they better enjoy the off day (Monday) because we are going to need all hands on deck with the eight games this week,’’ said Coleman, whose team has doubleheaders scheduled on Friday at Lafayette and on Sunday at Quincy.

Additionally, five of this week’s games are against Springfield (10-7) and Lafayette (10-6), the top two teams in the Prospect League’s West Division.

“This is a big week to chase those leaders,’’ Coleman said. “As long as we take care of our business, which starts with protecting our house (tonight) and Wednesday against Springfield, we will put ourselves right into contention.

“Hopefully, we get things started with a big crowd for a two-buck Tuesday night.’’

Admission to tonight’s game is just $2, which is also the cost of hot dogs, soda and Busch Lights on Tuesday nights at Danville Stadium.

Posted 30 weeks ago


By JIM COTTER sports@dancomnews.com | June 18, 2017
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Baseball is a funny game, and can often give managers some unneeded stress.

Just ask Danville Dans’ manager Eric Coleman, who saw his team squander an early lead, but hold on to defeat the Quincy Gems 7-6 in Prospect League action on Saturday evening at Danville Stadium.

Dans’ starting pitcher Ryan Gowens was in command early in the game, recording nine strikeouts in the first nine outs, as his teammates staked him to an early 5-0 lead within the first four innings of play. Logan Carey led off the bottom of the first inning by homering on the first pitch he saw from Quincy starter Elias Martinez.

Tucker Cascadden also went deep for the Dans in the bottom of the second inning, while catcher Mason Doolittle also plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the third inning to pad the Dans’ lead even further.

Things began to unravel for Danville in the top of the sixth inning, as Quincy sent 10 men to the plate, scoring four runs to cut the Dans’ lead to 5-4. The Danville defense let their guard down in that inning, as they committed a pair of errors to aid in the Gems’ comeback.

The Quincy comeback was made complete in the top of the seventh inning, thanks to yet another error by Dans’ third baseman Welles Cooley, as they tied the game at five apiece.

However, the game didn’t stay tied for long, as Nick Webre laced a single to left, scoring two and giving the Dans a 7-5 lead.

Quincy pulled to within a run in the top of the eighth inning, on a single by Michael Nielsen off Dans’ reliever Chase Nix. Jonah Ulane was summoned from the bullpen to get the final out of the inning, and struck out Cody Birdsong to end the Quincy threat.

Ulane stayed on to pitch the ninth inning, and was greeted by a leadoff single by Blake Hart. But Carey, who was playing right field, uncorked a perfect strike to second base, to get the all-important first out of the inning. Ulane would strike out the next two batters to preserve the win for Clayton Slifer, who pitched one and a third innings.

“This was just one of those nights when we didn’t play catch like we need to, and normally we are one of the best defensive teams in the league, so it was definitely out of character for us,” Coleman said following the game on the hard-fought victory.

Gowens’ early performance was very indicative of how the first few innings went, and according to the right-hander from the University of Arizona, he was just enjoying the moment as the punch outs kept piling up.

“Honestly, I’ve never done anything like that before, and while I was aware of what I was doing, I just kept pitching the way I knew and just enjoyed myself out there,” Gowens remarked following the game on his early mastery of the Quincy hitters.

Danville will return to action today when they travel to Terre Haute to face the Rex, a team that defeated them last week in Danville.

“We have a rule of enjoying a win until midnight, then it is on to the next game. They defeated us last week, so we want to make sure we return the favor and try to finish the week undefeated,” Coleman added about the week that was for his team.

The Dans return home on Tuesday for three mid-week games, facing the Springfield Sliders on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, then welcoming the Gems back to Danville Stadium on Thursday evening. All three home games begin at 6:30 p.m.

Posted 30 weeks ago


Zach Eschberger, a sophomore from Henderson State University, has been named the Prospect League Pitcher of the Week for the week ending June 18.

The Tyler, TX native threw a complete game shutout in the Dans 7-0 win over the Quincy Gems on June 6. The left-hander only gave up four hits while throwing 107 pitches – 80 of which were strikes. That led to nine strikeouts and no walks. It was the first complete game for the Dans since June, 2014.

On the season, Eschberger is 1-1 in three starts, and four total appearances. He’s thrown a total of 18.2 innings, allowing eight earned runs for a 3.85 ERA, and has allowed 17 hits. He leads the Dans starters with 20 strikeouts and just six walks.

The Danville Dans are in their 30th season of wooden bat summer college baseball. The Dans are a founding member of the Prospect League, which was formed from the long-time Central Illinois Collegiate League - CICL. The have had nearly 200 players go on to play professional baseball – including 27 former Dans that have put on a major league uniform.

The Prospect League, in conjunction with Pointstreak and Blue Star Sports, names the Pitcher and Player of the Week during the league’s season. The league has 10 teams competing in a five-state region: Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. For more information, please visit www.prospectleague.com.

For more information about the Danville Dans, including upcoming home game schedule, visit www.DanvilleDans.com.

Posted 30 weeks ago