Bianco ignites Danville Dans offense in opening game of doubleheader
Ben Bianco grew up in a college baseball family.
His dad is Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco, who just completed his 17th season with the Rebels.
But as an incoming freshman to University of Louisville this past fall, Bianco admitted that he got humbled facing collegiate pitching for the first time.
That’s one of the main reasons that he was looking forward to this summer with the Danville Dans.
On Thursday night, Bianco extended his hitting streak to four games as he went 2-for-2 with a single, a double and two runs scored in the Dans 3-1 victory over the Hannibal Hoots in the first game of a Prospect League doubleheader before 857 at Danville Stadium. The second game was tied 1-1 in the 12th inning when the Commercial-News went to press.
“It’s nice to start feeling better in the box and getting my timing back,’’ said Bianco, who is 6-of-14 during his hitting streak.
Why does he think that he is hitting better?
“Just getting my at-bats,’’ he said. “The more that I’m out there, the more I see it and the more comfortable that I’ve become at the plate.’’
Bianco started his night with a one-out single to left. After an opposite field hit by Jacob Talamante, Bianco scored on a RBI double down the left-field line by Zach Huffins.
It was a very similar scenario in the fourth inning.
This time Bianco led off the frame with a double to left center and this time he scored on a run-scoring ground out by Huffins, breaking a 1-1 tie.
“It’s fun to be the guy that starts the offense,’’ Bianco said. “It’s good to get those guys at the top of the lineup some RBI opportunities. They are typically the guys that are getting on base and scoring for us.’’
With two RBIs on Thursday, Huffins now has 11 on the season in 36 games.
“It’s not really a big deal,’’ Huffins said. “I just try to put our team in the best position possible and try to capitalize on my opportunities.
“It was just nice to help the team out tonight.’’
Bianco started his summer going 0-for-15 for the Dans, before going 2-for-4 with a home run in Springfield, Ohio, against the Champion City Kings.
After Danville’s game with the Lafayette Aviators on July 4, Bianco was hitting just .136 with 2 homers and 4 RBIs. Since then, he is hitting .429 with 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored.
“It’s been a grind, but that’s why I came here,’’ Bianco said. “You come to the Prospect League to get a lot of at-bats, play a lot of baseball and get yourself better for when I get back to school in the fall.
“It’s been a lot of fun and I’m really glad to be here.’’
Did he even feel that way during some of his struggles?
“That happens in baseball,’’ he said. “You just have to flush every at-bat after it’s over, and keep going forward. You need to go to the plate each time with a clean approach.
“Eventually, you just have to work through it.’’
In Thursday’s second game, former Bismarck-Henning standout Dylan Dodd, the 2016 Commercial-News Player of the Year continued his mastery of the Danville Dans, going six innings, allowing just two first-inning doubles, while striking out a summer-best 12 for the Hannibal Hoots.
Dodd has struck out 30 and walked just one in 18 innings against the Dans this summer.
The only run that Danville got off Dodd came on a run-scoring double by Gavin Dugas.
Hannibal sent the game into extra innings when Chris Iazzetta scoring on a seventh-inning wild pitch. The two team remained tied into the 12th inning.