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Terre Haute Rex

July 23, 2010

Rex take first-place showdown with River Rats in 10th

TERRE HAUTE — It’s written on the greaseboard in the Terre Haute Rex clubhouse that the team should be “All In, All Out For Nine Innings.”

The Rex put that slogan to test in a first-place battle with Richmond on Thursday at Bob Warn Field … and then some.

Entering the ninth inning with a two-run deficit, the Rex needed to generate a rally to maintain its Prospect League Central Division lead as the River Rats were on their heels, a half-game behind in the standings.

The Rex got exactly what they needed. It’s symantics whether you want to call Terre Haute’s key two-run ninth a Rex rally or a Richmond meltdown, but Rex patience at the plate paid off to make Richmond pay for its mistakes.

Terre Haute got the game to extra innings and once there, its bench made its presence felt. A leadoff walk by backup catcher Braden Kline, a tag-evading bunt single by Kyle Burnam up the first-base line and a single by Cole Vicars scored the winning run for the Rex as they rallied for a 6-5 victory in front of 742 onlookers.

The victory gave the Rex (10-3) a 1 1/2-game lead over the River Rats in the Central Division.

Vicars had entered the game in the ninth as a pinch-runner and Kline entered in the 10th and their contributions were huge in the Rex victory.

“When you get the call, you have to step in there no matter what situation you’re in. I know we’re always ready for it at all times,” Vicars said.

Vicars’ game-winning play was an apt coda to the game as Richmond (8-4) suffered from hard luck from the ninth inning onward. Vicars hit a low blooper into the gap near second base. Richmond second baseman Tyler Campbell ranged to his left to make an excellent stab. However, his throw to first was not only too late to get Vicars, but was also inaccurate as it dribbled past Richmond first baseman Garrett Stephens.

Kline, who was at third, was not initially going to run on the Vicars hit. But once the ball got past Stephens, he made a belated charge to the plate. By the time Stephens recovered and made an off-balance throw home, it was too late, as Kline slid across the plate for a dramatic game winner on the throwing error by Campbell.

“The determination alone says a lot about what this team’s belief is right now. It’s a huge win,” Rex manager Brian Dorsett said.

The ninth was just as dramatic, a testament to Terre Haute’s patience against Richmond closer Chuck Ghysels, who had trouble with his command.

Burnam drew a leadoff walk, followed by a Chris Carlson single. Nolan Earley then sacrificed both into scoring range. Alex DeLeon then drew a walk to load the bases.

After Alex Guthrie popped out to short, the Rex were up against it with two outs, but their patience didn’t wane. Koby Kraemer worked a 3-2 count against Ghysels, but stayed calm in the box when Ghysels threw ball four past him to force in Burman to make it 5-4.

“We knew we’d come back. We’d seen their closer a few times. We knew what he had,” Vicars said.

Next up was Joe Meggs. After Ghysels threw a ball, he was relieved by fireballer Freddie Cabrera.

Meggs barely saw Cabrera’s first pitch, but he certainly felt it. Cabrera’s first throw sailed to the right and hit Meggs squarely in the back. Pinch-runner Joel Licon strolled home to score the game-tying run. Jared Broughton struck out to end the Rex threat, but the damage had been done.

“We were game and really mentally ready to face their closer. We ramped our concentration up in that inning, we had some great at-bats. Burnam, Carlson, Earley, DeLeon, Guthrie had a good at-bat, Kraemer had a great at-bat, so did Meggs. He had two strikes on some of those guys. They just did a great job of composing themselves as players,” Dorsett said.

The Rex had early control of the game. After falling behind 1-0 in the first, the Rex responded quickly. After Burnam reached on an error, Earley, who has hit .484 in his last seven games for the Rex, cracked a two-run homer to right field. It was the seventh home run hit by a Rex player at Bob Warn Field this season.

The Rex added another run on a Guthrie RBI single in the fifth as Terre Haute starter Austin Haynal cruised through five relatively easy innings.

However, Haynal came to earth in the sixth. A two-out, two-run RiverRats rally began with a Stephens double and was punctuated by a two-run home run to left by Ryan Skellie to tie the game.

Richmond took the lead in the eighth. A leadoff walk by Casey Jones and a single by Skellie set up Aaron Etchison, who hit a two-run double up the middle to make it 5-3.

The Rex begin a four-game road swing. Terre Haute plays a two-game series at Richmond starting tonight, followed by a two-game swing at Nashville.

The Rex next play at home Tuesday against Nashville.

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Terre Haute Rex
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