TERRE HAUTE —
The Terre Haute Rex and Nashville Outlaws each had their share of highlights and lowlights Friday night in a first-place battle at Bob Warn Field.
Terre Haute eventually lengthened its first-place lead in the Prospect League’s West Division, hanging on for a 10-8 victory in a game with seven errors between the two teams.
Lucas Hileman’s bases-clearing triple off the top of the right-center field wall in the seventh inning proved to be the momentous play the Rex needed. The lightning fast center fielder was thrown out on bang-bang play at home plate trying to make it an inside-the-park home run.
The Indiana State senior hit a ball in a similar spot to lead off the first inning for a double.
“I thought the first ball I hit was gone — I was kind of trotting a little bit — I just had a two-strike approach and just tried to get the bat on the ball. [In the seventh inning] he left the ball up, and good hitters, they hit mistakes. That one I happened to hit it well, and I thought I got under the tag [at home],” Hileman said.
Chris Manning’s RBI bunt with the bases loaded prior to Hileman’s heroics was also a big play in the six-run seventh inning that started with a single up the middle by Koby Kraemer.
“It’s a push bunt,” manager Brian Dorsett said. “He can either bunt for a hit or push bunt. We needed to get another run across, and he’s been struggling a little bit. That’s a good way for him to get going,”
Stephen Bruno, the University of Virginia shortstop and a late season addition to the Rex, showed his bat is heating up with a double and a stand-up triple down the right-field line. Bruno picked up an RBI in the first with a sacrifice fly.
Bruno also helped reliever Chris Bossenberry close down the Outlaws, barehanding a high chopper above his head and firing to first to get Troy Zawadzki for the game’s final out.
“We’re trying to win ballgames the best we can so we can take that second half and get a shot at the playoffs,” Bruno said. “I’m excited for [Hileman], that was a huge hit for our team, big momentum booster.”
The Rex had a chance to break the game open in the second inning. Koby Kraemer skied a fly ball to the warning track in left field with two outs and the bases loaded, and the Rex came up empty in the fifth with the bases juiced again.
“We left some opportunities out there early in the game,” Dorsett said. “This is a really good hitting Nashville team so it’s dangerous any time you do that. I’m really proud of the guys coming back winning this game. We showed a lot to come back and get this. Really great intensity by our guys.”
The Rex made three errors, but only one cost them a run.
“It wasn’t the fundamentals of the game tonight. I’m really proud of the way we’ve been playing defensively. Tonight we had some lapses,” Dorsett said.
Southpaw Chris Nunn didn’t have his best stuff, struggling with his command, and Nashville made him pay in the middle of the game.
Nashville’s Matt Borgschulte drilled a ball into Woodlawn Cemetery beyond the left-field wall in the third inning as the Outlaws cut the Rex lead to 4-3. The Outlaws tied the game in the fourth and took command of the game with four in the fifth.
The top of the Rex order went down quickly in the sixth, but the offense ignited off Outlaws pitcher Cale Coshow in the seventh.
Matt Kohorst picked up the win in relief for Terre Haute.
It was Negro Leagues Baseball Museum night at the park. Former Kansas City Monarch and Chicago Cub George Altman, museum director Bob Kendrick and the great grandson of Negro League player Rainey Bibbs all tossed out a first pitch.