The Danville Dans got some luck in a crazy ninth inning to break out of a skid and grab a 5-4 win over the Butler Blue Sox on Tuesday evening at Danville Stadium.
With two outs and runners on second and third in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game, Danville’s Jason Hamm hit a blooper into short center field. Butler shortstop Aaron Ordy got to the ball in plenty of time and appeared to initially make the catch. But the ball found its way to the outfield grass for a game-ending hit, giving the Dans a victory after they had lost six of their last seven.
Before the final heroics, Danville’s Byron Williams drew a two-out walk and stole second. But he was injured on the stolen base, forcing the Dans to put in pitcher Jacob Lee as a pinch runner. After Chris Lewellyn walked, both runners advanced a base on a wild pitch to set up the wild last play.
Danville used some small ball to strike first in the bottom of the second. Austin Green led off with a walk, and a Jason Nappi single put runners on first and second. Ryan Van Amburg then laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners over, and Donavan Drake followed with an RBI groundout to second to plate Green for a 1-0 lead.
The Dans widened the lead with a three-run third inning. Nappi had an RBI double into the right-field gap, and Van Amburg followed with a clutch two-out, two-run single that bounced just in front of Blue Sox right fielder Brian Youchuk to make it 4-0.
Smith ran into his only trouble in the fifth inning, when Butler scored three runs. Zachary Noonan’s RBI single got the Blue Sox on the board, and Ordy scored when Smith made a throwing error on a pickoff attempt with runners on the corners. Noonan, who had advanced to second on the error, then scored on Brian Youchuk’s RBI single that took a crazy hop over the head of shortstop Lewellyn.
Smith turned in a quality start, allowing three runs – none earned – on six hits in six innings of work. He got a no-decision, though, because the Blue Sox got to Danville reliever Kyle Donawerth in the eighth, when Ryan McChesney hit a bloop RBI single into left field to score Youchuk.
Donawerth was solid, throwing three innings of one-run ball on two hits while striking out four. He picked up his first win of the year with the Dans’ ninth inning heroics.
Butler starter Tom Kahl went five innings and allowed four runs, all earned. He struck out eight and got a no-decision. Reliever Derek Peluso was the hard-luck loser, allowing just the one unearned run in 3 2/3 innings of work and striking out five.
Nappi and Hamm each had two hits for Danville, and Van Amburg had two RBIs. The Blue Sox were led by Youchuk’s three-hit performance.
With the win, Danville improves to 11-12 on the season. The Dans are at home for a doubleheader against Dubois on Wednesday.