TERRE HAUTE —
The Terre Haute Rex were their own worst enemy in the opening game of a doubleheader vs. the West Virginia Miners at Bob Warn Field on a hot, steamy — and eventually stormy — Sunday afternoon.
In the opener, Rex pitchers doled out seven walks, hit two batters and also fell victim to a double play and a rare triple play turned by the Miners. Despite outhitting the Miners 7-to-3, the Rex dropped a tough 4-3 decision.
In the nightcap, the two teams were locked in a 1-1 deadlock with the Miners threatening to assume the lead in the top of the fourth inning.
But a strong thunderstorm rolled through — uprooting a tree in the parking lot — and the game was suspended.
The game will be completed when the Rex (4-5) play the Miners in Beckley, W. Va., prior to their regularly scheduled game on Tuesday.
“First game? Obviously disappointed,” Rex manager Brian Dorsett stated. “One thing we’re trying to help our players understand is taking advantage of every opportunity. Not giving up outs, running into outs.”
The Miners forged ahead 2-0, scoring a run in the first and second innings.
In the first, Rex starter Mike Hachadorian walked the first two batters. After turning a double play, the Miners’ Phil Smith hit a soft grounder into short right field for a 1-0 lead.
In the second, Hachadorian continued his largess, this time with two outs, loading the bases with a walk and back-to-back hit batsmen. A soft tapper to the mound glanced off Hachadorian’s glove for an infield single to put the Miners up 2-0.
The Rex got within 2-1 in an eventful top of the fourth, but the inning could have been much better for the home team.
Alex Guthrie led off with a single, then Jase Morgan hit a grounder to shortstop which appeared to force Guthrie at second. But the umpire ruled Guthrie arrived at second base prior to the force out, putting runners at first and second.
Miners manager Tim Epling disputed the call. But his argument became a little too heated and he was eventually tossed from the game. Jared Broughton followed with a bloop single to load the bases, setting the stage for the triple play.
Alex DeLeon hit a grounder to the Miners’ second baseman. He stepped on second for the first out, then threw to first for the second out. Guthrie scored, but Morgan slipped rounding third base and was tagged out when the first baseman relayed to third.
“It was unfortunate,” Dorsett noted. “You never know what’s going to happen in that situation. Do we come back and get another hit there? You just don’t know.
“It was just one of those things where [Morgan] was being aggressive. He slipped a little bit on the turf and [West Virginia] did a nice job on the defensive side throwing behind him and got him.”
Hachadorian settled down to retire seven straight batters, but ran into more difficulty in the top of the fifth. A walk and a double by Joe Koch put two runners in scoring position with nobody out. After throwing ball one to Zach Tanner, Dorsett lifted his starter.
Reliever Austin Haynal walked Tanner to load the bases, then walked Smith to force in a run. A sacrifice fly plated Koch and WV was up 4-1.
Haynal settled down the final two innings, keeping the Rex within striking distance.
Koby Kraemer hit his first home run of the season to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning, getting the Rex within 4-2. In the sixth, Cooper Smith had a one out double but was stranded.
In the seventh, Derick Daniel led off with a single, stole second and scored on a RBI-single by Ray Hernandez. But WV closer Kevin Shackelford slammed the door on the Rex, the game ending on a 5-4-3 double play.
“We’ve played from behind a lot,” Dorsett lamented. “I like the fight in us. But it isn’t easy to keep fighting back all the time. We’ve just got to get ourselves in a position to get ahead and play with the lead. It would be great to have an 8-0 game.
“We’ve lost three games by one run, lost two by two runs, had three extra inning games and lost on a walkoff [at Springfield]. We’ve just got to learn to battle through to the W [win] side of things. [The players] want to win, want to get better and they’re listening. It’s early in the year. There’s no panic button right now.”
In the nightcap, the Rex jumped to a 1-0 in the first inning. Nolan Earley singled, went to second on a passed ball, to third on a sacrifice bunt by Kyle Burnam, scoring on a sacrifice fly by Guthrie.
WV tied the game at 1-1 in the third inning. Jeremy Robinson doubled off the left wall, went to third on a sacrifice bunt, scoring on a single by Victor Ramos.
In the top of the fourth, Rex starter Chad Reeves hit a batter and issued a walk with one out — sound familiar to the first game? With two outs, both runners moved up a base on a passed ball. But with a 1-2 count on the next batter, the game was suspended.
To be continued …