TERRE HAUTE —
Wildness cost the Terre Haute Rex a precarious lead in the fifth inning, but thankfully for the home team Quincy returned the favor in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Three walks and a hit batsman, the winning run scoring on a bases-loaded walk to Alex Reynolds, lifted the Rex to a dramatic 2-1 victory over the visting Gems to send the largest crowd of the season of 1,113 home happy in a Prospect League baseball game at Bob Warn Field on Saturday.
In the Rex ninth, Spencer Mahoney walked, then with two outs, Edmund Cheatham was hit hard by a pitched ball — after being prone on the ground, he was able to stay in the game — to put two runners on base. After a wild pitch advanced both runners, Jacob Hayes and Reynolds showed great patient in drawing back-to-back walks -- the latter winning the game for the Rex.
“This was one of those days we just hoped we matched the great performances of the Quincy pitchers . . . I felt like we did,” Rex manager Brian Dorsett said.
The Rex were hitless one out into the fourth inning, until starting pitcher and cleanup batter Michael Schroeder doubled — the ball skipping “just” across the corner of the third base bag. That worked so well, Brian Norwood did the same thing, only his ball went just inside the first base bag for a RBI-double and a 1-0 lead.
Schroeder allowed one Gems' base-runner in each of his first four innings on the mound for the Rex, three singles and a walk. But the left-hander fell victim to wildness in the top of the fifth inning.
The inning began innocently enough, Schroeder retiring the first two batters before his inning unraveled.
Gems’ ninth-place hitter Zac Zdanowicz reached on a bunt single and leadoff hitter Gregory Allen walked, prompting Rex manager Brian Dorsett to come out to the mound to visit with Schroeder.
As soon as Dorsett returned to the dugout, Schroeder whirled and threw to second base attempting to pick off Zdanowicz. Trouble was, no one was covering second base. The ball bounced into centerfield, the runners moving up to second and third.
Schroeder walked David Kuhne to load the bases, then Dorsett replaced Schroeder with Nick Cunningham. Cunningham walked Zach George on a 3-2 pitch, forcing in the tying run.
“Schroeder was spot starting tonight for Kameron Stady … Kameron came up with an elbow problem before the game so he wasn’t able to start,” Dorsett explained. “Schroeder just takes the ball. That’s the kinda guy he is, he will do anything for the team.
“He can play left field, first base, pitches out of the bullpen, he’ll spot start. The guy’s a gamer, he loves to compete. Just got a little tired in the fifth inning."
The Rex also threatened in the bottom of the eighth. Hayes singled, was sacrifice-bunted to second then reached third on a wild pitch. But with one out, Hayes was easily thrown out at home trying to score on a grounder to third.
“We tried to go on contact after Jacob had that base-hit in the eighth, they made a nice play and got him at the plate … you just try to roll the dice sometimes," Dorsett noted. “So for us to come back in the ninth was big.”
After the fifth inning, the Rex pitching just as quickly settled down, only allowing three Quincy runners to reach base the balance of the game.
Cunningham did not allow a run in 3 1/3 innings of relief, while winning pitcher Nick Blount retired Quincy 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth, including two strikeouts.
“Keeping the momentum, this is our first three-game winning streak … I think we’re going to continue to move on and build for the second half,” Dorsett said. “I still think this is a heckuva ballclub. Our pitching is coming together. Excited with the win.”
The Rex, improving to 12-11 on the season, will host Quincy to conclude this two-game weekend series at 5:30 p.m.