By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Jake Ivory took precautions to avoid the celebratory water shower.
The custom for the Quincy Gems this season has been to douse the star of the game with liquid from the dugout cooler during his postgame interview.
So after Ivory's walk-off single scored Mike Wilson from second base, lifting the Gems to a 4-3 victory in 11 innings over the Danville Dans on Tuesday at QU-Stadium, he knew what was coming. He stood with his back to the infield, instead of toward the dugout, and kept his eyes on the coolers.
"I'll see it if it's coming," Ivory said.
Finally, Ivory's concentration relented. Teammates Steven Pallares and Brady Arenson snuck around from behind with a cooler, and Ivory wound up drenched.
Ivory deserved the celebration shower.
The victory gives the Gems a 1-0 edge in the best-of-three Prospect League West divisional series. The series now shifts to Danville for the final two games. Game 2 is 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
"It's big, because whoever takes the first game, it puts the other team down a little bit," Ivory said. "We're going back to their home place, but we'll have two chances to do it. They are a great team, and it's going to be tough, but I have a good feeling about it."
Wilson, the Gems' catcher, led off the 11th with a bunt single. He moved to second on Steven Pallares' sacrifice bunt, and Ivory ripped the first pitch he saw down the left-field line. The only question was whether it would stay fair. It landed about a foot inside the chalk.
"Jake was aggressive, just like you should be with a guy on second in extra innings," Gems manager Chris Martin said. "When he hit it, I was yelling for it to get down before it hooked foul."
Ivory's single made a winner of his University of Missouri teammate and summer roommate Austin Tribby, who tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
"Once I heard the crack of the bat, I knew it was down, and I knew we'd just won the game," said Tribby, who struck out four. "He's just like that. He's got ice in his veins at all times."
Porous defense caused Quincy to blow two leads.
Quincy led 3-2 in the ninth when Danville's Tyler Selesky led off with a fly ball to shallow left-center field. The ball should have been caught, but it landed between three Quincy players. Selesky moved to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a bunt and scored on Andrew Buddle's sacrifice fly.
Errors by Quincy shortstop Nick Roscetti and Pallares, the second baseman, allowed the Dans to score a pair of unearned runs in the sixth to take a 2-1 lead.
"Errors happen, and great teams can overcome the errors," Ivory said.
Devin Pickett's two-run single put the Gems back ahead in the eighth.
Led by Pallares, who went 3 for 5, the Gems piled up 14 hits. Quincy scored the game's first run in the fifth, when Pallares doubled and scored on a passed ball.
Quincy starter Jake Powers limited Danville to three hits in seven innings. If not for Quincy's errors, Powers would not have allowed a run. He struck out seven and walked three.
"He pitched a hell of a game, and we just had to do it for him," Tribby said of Powers. "He's been solid all year. The way he attacks batters, it's awesome. He lives low. He doesn't have overpowering stuff, but it doesn't matter. He pumps strikes, changes speeds and works with a good tempo. That's all you've got to do."
Tribby got into a little trouble in the 10th, but with runners on first and third with two outs, he got a fly out to end the inning. He worked a perfect 11th. Tribby went 6-3 in the regular season with a 0.93 ERA.
"I was very confident because he's proved himself all year," Ivory said. "He throws strikes. He commands his pitches. I had all the faith in the world in him. When a team has faith in their pitcher, he can feel it."
Danville's Jared Burton tossed 3 1/3 innings of relief but shouldered the loss. The 11th-inning run snapped Burton's streak of 33 2/3 innings without an earned run.
Danville is the West Division champion and went 9-6 against the Gems in the regular season. Danville is 22-8 at home, but Martin isn't about to count out his team after it claimed the early edge.
"I told them the other day, ‘If we go get that first one, everything completely changes, for them especially,'" Martin said. "We'll see. We got a chance. The boys want to take care of it (Wednesday)."