It took awhile, but the Danville Dans swept a doubleheader against the Quincy Gems on Saturday night at Danville Stadium. The Dans took the first of two scheduled seven-inning games 5-2 before outlasting the Gems 4-3 in 11 innings in the nightcap.
In the second game, Danville’s Mikie Mahtook came through with a clutch home run in the bottom of the seventh to tie the contest at three. The game stayed tied through the 10th inning, thanks to solid relief pitching from reliever on both squads. But the Dans finally ended it in the 11th, when Austin Green led off with a double and scored on Austin Nola’s single to deep right center.
The game had been scoreless through three innings, as Quincy starting pitcher Jimmy Foster and Danville hurler Jacob Lee each stayed out of trouble and induced double plays. Quincy broke the ice in the fourth, when Jacob White doubled to lead off the frame. He then advanced to third base on a groundout and scored on a Brian Farris sacrifice fly that put the Gems up 1-0.
The Dans came back quickly, though, with a run of their own in the bottom half. Nappi led off with a single, advanced to second on a balk and scored on a single to left by Austin Green. Danville had a great chance to add more, but runners were stranded on the corners when Austin Nola struck out and Lewellyn flied out to end the inning.
A big play by Green in right field kept the game tied in the top of the sixth. After a walk, a single and a sac bunt put Gems runners on second and third with one out, Farris lifted a fly ball to right field. Green circled the ball, made the catch and fired a rocket right on target to home plate, where Johnson tagged out Quincy’s White on a very close play.
In the bottom of the inning, Green came through on the offensive side, singling and later scoring from second base when Quincy third baseman John Lorenz let a routine grounder slip past him for an error and a 2-1 Danville advantage.
That lead was short lived, however, as the Gems came back with two runs in the top of the seventh. Jake Hibberd’s one-out RBI single tied the game at two, and he advanced to second on a groundout. The Gems’ Fayard then lined a ball off Danville reliever Greg Houston that deflected into short left field, enabling Hibberd to score from second for a 3-2 lead.
But with his team’s back against the wall, Mahtook came through for the Dans in a big way, leading off the bottom of the seventh with a towering solo home run over the left-field wall to tie the game and send the crowd into a frenzy.
Josh Tols took the loss in the nightcap, allowing the 11th-inning run. Matt Smith, typically a starter pitcher for the Dans, picked up the win with a scoreless inning of work. Green, Cody Yount and Nola each had two hits for the Danville in the game.
Game one wasn’t as eventful. Danville jumped out to a quick lead when Chris Lewellyn and Mahtook led off with back-to-back singles in the first inning to put runners on the corners. An errant pickoff attempt by Quincy starter Lee Valencheck sailed into foul territory in right field, scoring Lewellyn and sending Mahtook to third. Mahtook then scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0.
The Dans widened their lead with a three-run third inning. A Nola single, a Lewellyn walk and a Mahtook single loaded the bases to open up the inning. Catcher Nate Johnson then hit a chopper through the right side of the infield for a two-run single, and two batters later Jason Nappi lined a single to right to plate another run and give Danville a 5-0 lead.
Danville starter Aaron Lambrix took over from there. The right-hander was on top of his game, going the distance to pick up his sixth win of the season. In seven innings of work, Lambrix allowed two runs on six hits while striking out six. The only trouble Lambrix ran into was in the seventh, when Quincy strung together four hits and scored runs on a Richie Derbak RBI single and a Hibberd sacrifice fly.
Valencheck took the loss for the Gems in game one. He threw a complete game and allowed five runs on eight hits while striking out three. Myers led the Quincy offense with two hits and a run. Mahtook and Nappi each had two hits for Danville.
Danville is now 27-21 on the season.