Austin Nola hit for the cycle to lead the Danville Dans to an 11-6 victory over the visiting Dupage Dragons on Wednesday night at Danville Stadium.
The turning point was the bottom of the fifth. Trailing 6-4 entering the frame, the Dans got it rolling in the fifth frame with a one-out walk to Chris Lewellyn. An RBI double from Nola cut the deficit to 6-5, and after Nate Johnson reached on an error and Dabo Worthington walked, Jason Nappi chopped a single into left field to plate the tying and go-ahead runs. Austin Green later singled to right to drive home Worthington and complete the Dans’ four-run onslaught.
Danville trailed early, as Dupage got to Danville starter Justin Amlung quickly, scoring once in the first inning on Dave Reynolds’ RBI groundout. There were two outs with no one on in the third frame when the Dragons started another rally. Catcher Adam Davis walked on a full-count pitch that just missed the strike zone, and Reynolds followed with a sharp single to right. Grant Fillipitch then ripped a double down the left-field line to plate a pair and extend the lead to 3-0.
But Nola erased that deficit with one swing of the bat in the bottom half of the third. After Cody Yount got the Dans’ first hit with a single to left and Lewellyn walked, the shortstop from LSU drove the first pitch he saw just over the left-field fence to tie up the contest.
Dupage came right back with a big inning, this time a three-run fourth. Bryan Roberts led off and was hit by a pitch, and Andrew Brauer reached with one out when his grounder slipped past Worthington, the first baseman, for an error. A passed ball and hits from Sean Flanagan and Brian Martin put the Dragons up 6-3.
It could have been worse for Danville, as Martin initially scored on Adam Davis’ fly ball to center field to give Dupage a four-run lead. But the Dans appealed the tag-up, and Martin was called out for leaving the third base too early, keeping the score at 6-3.
Before its big fifth inning, Danville chipped away at the lead with a run in the fourth, when Worthington walked to lead off the frame and advanced to second on a Nappi single. From there, Worthington stole third and scored when the catcher Davis’ throw sailed into left field.
Nola’s RBI triple in the sixth inning left him only needing a single for the cycle and extended the Dans lead to 9-6. Danville later added a couple insurance runs in the seventh on a Richie Goodenow RBI single and a Ryan Van Amburg RBI groundout.
There was plenty of excitement left, though, with Nola leading off the eighth inning and needing just a single for the cycle. He achieved just that on a two-strike pitch, flicking a ball into shallow center field that fell between two Dupage fielders.
The unsung hero for Danville was its bullpen, as three relievers combined for five perfect innings. The Dragons chased Amlung after four innings, rocking the righty for six runs on six hits and a walk. But Kyle Donawerth picked up his third win of the season by throwing three perfect innings. Brett Huber and Greg Houston followed with perfect innings of their own, as the last 16 Dragons batters to come to the plate were set down in order.
Nola finished 4-for-5 with five RBIs and two runs. Nappi was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run.
Taylor Dennis took the loss for Dupage, allowing six runs in 4 1/3 innings. Martin led the Dragons offense with two hits and a run, and Fillipitch had two RBIs.
With the win, Danville improves to 29-21. The Dans have three scheduled games left and also will likely play a make-up game this Sunday at home.