TERRE HAUTE —
The formula didn’t have to change Saturday night as the Terre Haute Rex extended their winning streak to three games in Prospect League baseball.
“Defense and pitching. There’s no doubt that’s what won us this game,” manager Ronnie Prettyman said after a 4-0 blanking of the visiting Springfield Sliders at Bob Warn Field.
On a night when the home team managed just four hits, the visitors — who haven’t scored since Tuesday, including being shut out twice by the Rex — got only three.
Kendal Paluch got the win with five scoreless innings in his first Rex appearance. Josh Dove needed just 30 pitches to breeze through three innings in relief. And Terre Haute North graduate John Robert Patterson made his own Rex debut with a one-two-three ninth inning.
“This is the first time we’ve seen a lot of these guys,” Prettyman said afterward. “For them to come out in front of a big home crowd [of 932] and do what they did speaks volumes about what kind of guys they are.”
The Sliders had at least three great chances to score, but were thwarted in various ways.
With two out and a runner on second base in the top of the second, Rex second baseman Cody Gardner made a diving stop to keep what turned out to be an infield hit from becoming a run-scoring hit.
Shortstop Tyler Wampler made a play to retire the following batter, assuring the second inning remained scoreless, and he had an even better play in the top of the fifth when he charged a slow bouncer and got the third out of the inning with two runners aboard.
And in the top of the fourth, Paluch helped himself. After a leadoff single, a stolen base and a wild pitch put a runner at third with none out, the hard-throwing right-hander struck out the next two batters — fourth and fifth in the Sliders’ batting order — to extricate himself from that jam.
The Rex made the fundamental plays offensively too, at least in the bottom of the second inning. Ricky Sanchez, another player making his Terre Haute debut, got a hit and stole second, and Nate Arnold pulled the ball to the right side to get him to third base. Ryan Bertram followed with a double to drive in the run.
Bertram, who also contributed defensively by throwing out two Sliders attempting to steal, then got a walk in the bottom of the seventh that started the game-clinching rally. Kyle Zimmerman followed with a single, and three more walks plus a wild pitch made the game one-sided — even though the home team didn’t exactly pound the ball.
“You can’t always control how you’re going to hit,” Prettyman pointed out, “but you can control how you play defense. The guys played with focus tonight and did a good job behind our pitchers.”
Bertram, who catches for the University of Southern Indiana, did his hero’s work Saturday while playing on a temporary contract. He’s well aware, however, that his USI teammate Kyle Kempf started last season the same way for the Rex before becoming a Prospect League all-star and one of its leading hitters.
“I’m just here to play baseball,” Bertram said, “and hopefully prove I can stay. If not, I’ll do what I can to help the team win.”
The quick start by the Rex this season is no accident, Bertram indicated.
“There’s good chemistry, a good group of guys and a great coaching staff,” he said.
Terre Haute Rex 4, Springfield 0
Springfield (AB-R-H-RBI) — Rothermich cf 3-0-1-0, Fletcher ss 4-0-0-0, Prindle 3b-2b 2-0-1-0, Still 1b-3b 4-0-0-0, Guedry c 4-0-0-0, Fisher dh 2-0-0-0, Desimone rf 3-0-1-0, Rappe lf 2-0-0-0, Campos 2b 2-0-0-0, Ponder ph 1-0-0-0, Ackerman 1b 0-0-0-0. Totals 27-0-3-0.
Terre Haute Rex (AB-R-H-RBI) — Kempf cf 2-1-1-0, Wampler ss 1-0-0-1, Johnson 3b-2b 2-0-0-1, Conway lf 4-0-0-0, Sanchez rf 2-1-1-0, Schwab ph-3b 1-0-0-0, Arnold dh 4-0-0-0, Bertram c 2-1-1-1, May pr 0-0-0-0, Evans c 0-0-0-0, Zimmerman 1b 4-1-1-0, Gardner 2b-rf 3-0-0-0. Totals 25-4-4-3.
Springfield 000 000 000 — 0
Terre Haute 010 000 30x — 4
DP — TH 1. LOB — Springfield 5, TH 8. 2B — Bertram. SB — Fisher, Sanchez 2, Prindle, Kempf, May. CS — Prindle, Rothermich. SH — Wampler, Gardner.
Springfield IP H R ER BB SO
Weller (L) 5 3 1 1 2 6
Johansen 1 0 0 0 0 1
Wonders 1/3 1 3 3 4 0
Dunne 1 2/3 0 0 0 1 3
Terre Haute IP H R ER BB SO
Paluch (W) 5 3 0 0 3 7
Dove 3 0 0 0 2 3
Patterson 1 0 0 0 0 1
WP — Paluch, Dunne. HBP — by Weller (Kempf), by Weller (Wampler). T — 2:21.
Next — The Terre Haute Rex (3-1) host Hannibal at 5:30 p.m. today. Springfield is 1-3.