Danville Dans rally in 9th inning to beat Rex
The hopes of winning the Prospect League’s West Division title for the Danville Dans could swing greatly over the next four games.
Actually, things swung quite a bit on Friday night, in the first of three matchups between the Dans and the first-place Terre Haute Rex.
Danville overcame a 6-0 deficit, scoring in each of the last four innings including a four-run ninth, as the Dans defeated the Rex 8-6 before 1,068 at Bob Warn Field in Terre Haute.
“This was a big win,’’ said Danville manager Eric Coleman, whose team is now just 2 games behind Terre Haute for the division lead. “We just kept battling and chipping away. I think this game was a great sign of the character that this team has, because they never gave up.
“We always talk about competing for all 27 outs and that’s what we did tonight.’’
The ninth inning rally for the Dans was started by Thursday’s hero Ben Bianco, who drew a leadoff walk and then advance to second on a wild pitch.
Shortstop Trevor Minder drove him home with a single allowing Danville to pull within 6-5.
After a sacrifice bunt by Christian Sanchez and back-to-back walks to Jacob Talamante and Kobe Kato loaded the bases with one out.
From there it was a combination of speed from the Dans and fielding miscues by the Rex allowed Danville to tie the game at 6-6 and take a 7-6 lead. Zach Huffins drove home the first run on an error by Terre Haute shortstop Lorenzo Elion and that was followed by Gavin Dugas getting an RBI on an error from Terre Haute first baseman Jarrett O’Leary.
The Dans capped their four-run inning on an RBI groundout from Damian Pierce.
Terre Haute closer Thomas Waning, who also gave up a game-winning hit on Tuesday to Trevor Minder, was saddled with all four runs — two earned.
“We put the ball in play and we made things happen in the ninth inning,’’ Coleman said.
After a doubleheader on Thursday, including a 12-inning affair against Hannibal, the Dans were extremely limited in their bullpen options.
So, Coleman used a pair of position players for the final three innings.
Cade Evans threw scoreless seventh and Drew Bianco picked up his first collegiate victory with a scoreless eighth and ninth innings, but he needed a little help for those final two outs.
Terre Haute loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, but Bianco got Elion to hit into a game-ending double play. It was the second twin killing of the night for the Dans.
“I don’t really want to use positional players on the mound, but these pitching rules have tied our hands,’’ Coleman said. “Both Cade and Drew came in and did a nice job for us.’’