The Danville Dans rode strong pitching and two eighth-inning runs to a 3-1 victory over the Dupage Dragons on Tuesday evening at Danville Stadium.
Danville opened the scoring in the bottom of the first. Back-to-back one-out singles by Mikie Mahtook and Jason Nappi put runners and first and second. After Mahtook advanced to third on a flyout, Nate Johnson followed with a single to left that gave the Dans a 1-0 lead.
The score would stay that way into the fifth, as Danville starter Justin Amlung and Dupage starter Tom Zelasko were on top of their games. Zelasko allowed just one run in seven innings of work while striking out five. Amlung retired the first seven Dragon batters of the contest, and threw 5 2/3 innings while allowing one unearned run on three hits..
The only time the Dupage got to Amlung was in the top of the fifth. After Barrett Serrato walked to lead off the frame, Matthew Mirabal laid down a sac bunt in front of home plate. Amlung got to the ball in time to make a play, but his throw sailed up the line and Dans first baseman Dabo Worthington couldn’t make the grab with Mirabal arriving at the bag. The runners advanced to second and third on the play, and Serrato eventually scored when Johnson, the Danville catcher, made a throwing error trying to pick off Brian Martin from first.
A great “strike ‘em out, throw ’em out” double play prevented Dupage from scoring any more in the inning and taking the lead. With Martin still on first and Mirabal on third, the count ran full on batter Dan Scahill. With Martin running, Scahill went down swinging, and Johnson fired to second. But Danville second baseman Austin Nola cut the throw off and fired a bullet back to home plate to nail Mirabal, who tried to steal home on the throw, by just an eyelash.
The game remained tied until the Dans half of the eighth, when Worthington led off with a double to left center. He advanced to third on Johnson’s bloop single to left and then scored on Scott Schauer’s sacrifice fly to deep center. Walks to Nola and Byron Williams later in the inning loaded the bases, and the Dans got an insurance run when Ryan Van Amburg scored on a wild pitch to give the game its final margin.
Ryan Cabral picked up the win for Danville. He struck out four in two scoreless innings of work and got the final out when Worthington made a nice running, over-the-shoulder catch in foul territory to end the game with the tying run at the plate.
Taylor Dennis took the loss for Dupage, as he allowed the two runs in the eighth inning. The Dragons were led offensively by Martin, who went 2-for-3 with a walk.
Danville outhit Dupage 10-4 in the game. Johnson, Nappi, Mahtook and Frank Rawdow each had two hits for the Dans. Richie Goodenow was strong in a middle relief role, tossing 1 1/3 innings of scoreless ball and striking out three.
With the win, Danville improves to 19-18. The Dans host Hannibal in a doubleheader Wednesday.