TERRE HAUTE — Kurt Kudrecki was Indiana State’s go-to guy in the bullpen all spring, making all 29 of his appearances in relief, compiling a 1.57 earned-run average in 46 innings.
Kudrecki was just as outstanding in his Terre Haute Rex debut, striking out eight and allowing four hits in five innings as a starter in the season opener at Bob Warn Field.
Unfortunately for the 837 fans in attendance, Kudrecki’s defense made a couple costly miscues, and his lineup managed just five hits through seven innings against Quincy as the Gems held on for a 4-3 victory.
Another Sycamore, Owen Conway, almost pulled the Rex even in the eighth. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound right-handed hitter smashed a line drive to the gap in left-center field to score Tyler Wampler and Nick Johnson.
Quincy center fielder Caleb Howell cut the ball off from getting all the way to the wall or Kyle Zimmerman might have scored from first base to tie the game on the two-out double.
“Nice swing by Owen. He’s got a chance to be a middle-of-the-order guy for us. If he got that ball in the air a little more, we tie the game,” Rex manager Ronnie Prettyman said.
Kudrecki allowed just one run, an unearned run in the third inning as a Nick Roscetti’s line-drive single to left field tipped off the glove of Conway in left field and Caleb Howell sprinted around to score.
Kudrecki bounced back to strike out the side in the second, going five innings for a quality start.
“I knew what we were going to get with Kurt,” Prettyman said. “That’s one of the reasons he started on opening night. He came out, hit a guy and gave up a hit, but he settled in. He’s got some things to work on as far as pitches.”
Kudrecki’s breaking ball was his best weapon, but he threw seven change-ups among his 70 pitches, which is the pitch he needs to improve this summer.
Kudrecki said he’d like to show the ISU coaches that he’s a candidate to crack the weekend starting rotation.
“I was just excited to start, I was a little jittery at the beginning, I settled down, I just cruised with it,” Kudrecki said. “The breaking ball really started working for me. Pitch count, it’s tough getting more pitches than usual. Eventually get my pitch count up a little bit.”
Quincy added a big insurance run in the eighth inning off Michael Marsinek. Another left-handed reliever, Michaelangelo Guzman, touched 93 miles-per-hour on the radar gun when tossing a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
Kyle Kempf, who led the team with a .364 batting average last summer, batted leadoff and went 2 for 4 for the Rex. Kempf also stole a pair of bases.
Quincy 4, Rex 3
QUINCY (AB-R-H-BI) — Howell cf 5-1-3-0, Roscetti ss 3-0-1-0, Wilson c 4-0-0-0, Niedbalski 1b 4-0-1-0, Light 4-0-0-0, Marek rf 4-2-2-0, Ivory lf 3-1-1-0, Pickett 2b 4-0-1-0, Ley dh 4-0-1-2. Totals 35-4-10-2.
TERRE HAUTE (AB-R-H-BI) — Kempf cf 4-0-2-0, Wampler ss 4-0-1-0, Johnson 2-1-0-0, Cope rf 2-1-0-0, Zimmerman 1b 4-0-1-0, Conway lf 4-0-1-2, Schwab 4-1-1-0, May dh 3-0-0-0, Evans c 3-0-1-1. Totals 30-3-7-3.
Quincy 001 002 010 — 4 10 2
Terre Haute 000 010 020 — 3 7 2
2B — Conway, Schwab. SB — Kempf 2, Johnson. CS — Z.Evans. E — Conway, Schwab, Roscetti.
Quincy IP H R ER BB SO
Klein (W, 1-0) 5 1/3 5 1 1 1 3
Mortillaro 1 2/3 0 0 0 0 2
James 2/3 2 2 2 2 0
Busiek 1/3 0 0 0 0 0
Terre Haute IP H R ER BB SO
Kudrecki 5 4 1 0 1 8
Dove (L, 0-1) 2 4 2 2 0 0
Marsinek 1 2 1 1 0 1
Guzman 1 0 0 0 0 1
Next — Terre Haute (0-10 plays Thursday at Springfield at 7:35 p.m.