By Anthony Mitchell
For The Daily Item
DANVILLE -- Peyton Riley was in a groove on Saturday.
The Danville right-hander settled in after early trouble and started mowing down the Warrior Run hitters en route to 10-3 victory.
Riley kept his approach simple on the mound, staying composed and peppering the strike zone to keep the Warrior Run offense off-balance.
"I hit my spots," he said.
Riley had command of his pitches and was able to induce weak groundouts throughout the game, rather than racking up strikeouts and running his pitch count high. Pitching to contact allowing Riley to nearly go the distance for Danville, exiting with two outs in the top of the seventh inning.
"Peyton threw well," Danville manager Bob Riley said.
Riley allowed a run in the first inning, but showcased his short memory on the mound, retiring Warrior Run in the second, facing the minimum three hitters and setting down the opposition in order in the third. Riley faced a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning but pitched his way out with two of his three strikeouts coming with the bases full of Defenders in the fifth.
Any pitcher needs run support to be able to stay calm on the mound and Riley received plenty, helped by a five-run second inning.
Hunter Marcheski led off with a single but was quickly motoring around the bases, picking his pitches to run on to keep the defense honest. An RBI single from Liam Weaver and a hit batter brought in a run and put runners on first and second. After a sacrifice bunt, the bottom of the order delivered for Danville.
Consecutive RBI-base knocks from Zach Lynn and Jordan Bickhart gave Danville their first lead of the game, 3-1. Both runners scored as the speed on the base paths caused a number of passed balls and wild pitches.
Danville manufactured runs with its speed throughout the game.
"(Speed on the base paths) is always the game plan," Riley said.
The following inning, Travis Webb led off for Danville with a walk and was quickly on third as a result of taking off on first movement. Webb crossed the plate on a wild pitch to extend the lead to 6-1.
The tables started to turn briefly in the fourth inning with Danville finding themselves in a jam in the field. A two-run single from Gage Anzelovich brought the Defenders within three at 6-3 with the opportunity to creep closer.
Austin Culp singled, which looked to bring the Defenders within two but Bryce Woland was retired on a play at the plate, which turned the momentum of the game.
Warrior Run had been threatening to possibly tie the game with what would been the tying run in Culp on base after the single. As it turned out, Warrior Run would not score again in the game.
Danville pulled away with two runs in the fifth inning, using four singles to bring their hitters across. An additional two runs in the sixth inning gave the Ironmen a seven-run cushion. In between, Riley set down the bottom of the Warrior Run lineup in order with three groundouts.
After the fifth inning, Danville did not allow a hit to seal the victory.
Perhaps lost in the shuffle of a 10-3 defeat for Warrior Run was the play of Defenders shortstop Noah Showers, finishing 3-for-3.
"He's our best hitter," Warrior Run manager Bill Wilson said. "That's why he's hitting cleanup."
Showers pitched an inning and a third on the mound after starter Kade Meyer left the hill.