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COLLEGIATE BASEBALL: Dans steal a win from Kings

Jun. 7—DANVILLE — Being aggressive on the bases has always been the philosophy of the Danville Dans under manager Eric Coleman.

And it's no different in his 11th season.

Nolan Farley and Taft Middleton successfully pulled off a first and third baserunning play where Middleton was thrown out at second but Farley scored from third to give the Dans a 7-6 lead that would turn into an 8-6 victory over the Champion City Kings at Danville Stadium.

"Whatever we need to do," said Danville manager Eric Coleman, who also called the double steal attempt in the first inning with Michael Ryan and Graham Mastros to get the Dans their first run of the contest. "Anything we need to do to get runs across the plate, we will do it. If we have to run, we'll run. We will do everything possible to get a 'W.'

"We were able to basically steal two runs tonight and that was the difference in the game."

But, why do it in the eighth inning with runners on first and third with just one out?

"My philosophy has always been that we are going to run and find any way to score runs," Coleman said. "They had a left-handed pitcher on the mound, who can't see the runner at third. The first baseman has to be able to make a decision and throw the ball. I think you also saw that the middle infielders were not expecting the our guy to run from third and (the shortstop) bounced the throw to the plate."

And while on paper it looks like perfect execution, the Dans (5-2) were a little fortunate.

"Honestly, I was thinking if he picked off that I was going no matter what," said Farley, who didn't take off for home until he heard Coleman yelling at him to go. "Once I heard that, I just took off for the plate. I knew I was in a good position because I saw the first baseman get the ball. They are not usually known for being great athletes."

But, did you play first on Thursday night?

"Yes, I did. But I don't usually play first. This is like only my second game of being at first," said Farley, who has played four games this summer at second base. "But, it didn't matter. Once I heard EC, I knew I had to score."

Coleman's philosophy has led to more than 300 wins in his 10 previous seasons with the Dans and three of his teams rank among the top-five in the Prospect League Record Book for steals in a season.

"I will never fault them for being aggressive," he said. "I will fault them for being stupid, but not for being aggressive."

Farley acknowledges that style suits him perfectly.

"It makes everything a whole lot easier," he said. "You are not scared of anything. You get thrown out and Coleman will just tell you to stay aggressive.

"It's a way better way to play, because when you play scared, nothing goes right. It's fun to play with the freedom and confidence that is takes to win games."

In the fourth inning, Danville used the combination of good hitting with aggressive baserunner to score five times.

"That was pure offense," Coleman said. "We were able to execute a few hit-and-runs, and getting five runs is a big inning."

But, it was almost not enough.

After building a 6-1 lead, the Dans saw the Kings (2-5) battle back with a run in the fifth, three in the sixth and one in the eighth to tie the game at 6-6.

"We let them come back in those middle innings," Coleman said. "We didn't do a good job of throwing strikes."

Danville starter Jacob Parks held Champion City to just two runs in five innings, but the middle relievers gave up four runs in three innings. Bryce Riggs got the final three outs to pick up his first save of the summer.

"We got a good start from Parks, but we have to get better in the middle," Coleman said. "Riggs came in and did his job in the ninth."

Offensively, eight of the nine batters in the Danville lineup had at least one hit with Middleton leading the way, going 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI.