TERRE HAUTE —
Saturday’s Terre Haute Rex finale could have been a bittersweet affair.
After all, less than 24 hours before Saturday’s game against Danville began, the Rex were eliminated from Prospect League playoff contention after they were swept in a doubleheader at Nashville, Tenn. Instead of playing for a playoff spot, the Rex were playing for pride.
However, Terre Haute’s fans made what could have been an anticlimax into a celebration.
A record crowd of 2,178 turned out for the Rex season finale. Fans spilled over from the standing-room-only areas and they even stood two-deep in the Rex bullpen.
The crowd got a fitting send-off as the Rex vanquished the Danville Dans 6-2.
“This season has exceeded my expectations. You just don’t know until you actually get into it how it’s all going to play out.
“On the baseball side of it, they exceeded my expectations. I told the crowd I wouldn’t trade these guys for anybody and I believe that,” Rex manager Brian Dorsett said.
The Rex finished the second half of the Prospect League season 15-11 and had an overall record of 29-26.
With their six-run, seven-hit output, the Rex got the hits and runs they sorely needed the night before when Nashville defeated Terre Haute 2-0 and 1-0 in a doubleheader. The victory Saturday left a better taste in Terre Haute’s mouth than it had walking off the field in Nashville late Friday night.
“It was pretty tough last night. We had a big lead — a couple of weeks ago we were four games ahead — we knew we blew it these last 10 games or so. We thought about it at the hotel last night and just decided to make the best of it tonight,” Rex pitcher Tyler Browning said.
The biggest surprise of the night was the starting assignment given to Browning. The erstwhile Rex (and Indiana State) closer had not made a start since he was in high school, but he pitched well. Browning struck out five Dans in six innings of work and did not walk a batter.
“I wanted to have a good time. We had one game left to have fun, so we wanted to give it everything we got. I was pretty excited to start. I wanted to go out there and be aggressive,” Browning said.
Dorsett said that Browning was overjoyed to get a chance to start.
“It was one of the best moments of the year. I went in and told him about 5:30 or so, ‘Guess what, you’re starting.’ His face lit up like it was Christmas. It was an unbelievable outing by him. He’s a gamer and that’s what I love about him,” Dorsett said.
The Rex ended a 15-inning scoreless streak in the first. Kyle Burnam drew a leadoff walk and went to third on a single by Jordan Pearson. Danville pitcher Chad Girodo attempted to pick Pearson off first, but his throw sailed down the right field line and Burnam scored easily on the error.
Terre Haute added another run in the fourth inning. Alex Guthrie singled to right and the ball slipped under the glove of Danville right fielder Austin Green. Guthrie advanced to third on the error and scored on a Joe Meggs sacrifice fly.
Danville had already clinched a playoff spot with its first half championship, but was still mathematically alive for the second half championship and the Dans tied the game on a two-run home run by Bryan Haar in the top of the sixth.
The Dans’ revival would be short-lived. In Terre Haute’s half of the sixth, walks by Jared Broughton and Chris Carlson were sandwiched around a sacrifice by Meggs. Nick Parradossi’s sacrifice fly scored Broughton to put the Rex in front 3-2.
Cole Vicars then reached on an error and Burnam walked to load the bases. A wild pitch scored Carlson and another Danville error allowed Burnam and Vicars to score. Terre Haute’s four-run sixth inning was built without a single base hit. The sloppy Dans would go on to commit four errors in the contest.
After the game, the team was serenaded by the sellout crowd after the game as each player was introduced to the crowd as they took their places on the third base line. They formed a tunnel as kids ran the bases after the game.
“It was a lot of fun. We’re really happy a lot of people came out today. I mean, 2,100 people watched a game that didn’t mean anything playoff-wise. That just shows you how good of a baseball town Terre Haute is and how excited people are about the Rex this summer. Hopefully it will carry over into Indiana State baseball next year and people will come out and watch us,” Browning said.
Rex 6, Danville 2
Danville ab r h bi Rex ab r h bi
Frost 2b 4 0 0 0 Burnam lf-rf 2 2 0 0
Silverstein ss 4 1 1 0 Pearson 2b 4 0 2 0
Hogan dh 4 0 0 0 Earley cf 4 0 1 0
Haar 3b 4 1 1 2 Guthrie 1b 4 1 1 0
Tierney c 4 0 1 0 Broughton 3b 3 1 0 0
Green rf 3 0 0 0 Meggs dh 1 0 0 1
Clark 1b 3 0 1 0 Licon dh 1 0 0 0
Brubaker lf 3 0 1 0 Carlson rf 2 1 1 0
Bieser cf 3 0 0 0 Hrndez ph-lf 1 0 0 0
Parradossi c 2 0 1 1
Kline c 1 0 0 0
Vicars ss 4 1 1 0
Totals 32 2 5 2 Totals 29 6 7 2
Danville 000 002 000 — 2
Terre Haute 100 104 00X — 6
E — Silverstein (17), Haar (4), Green (6), Girodo (2). DP — D 1. LOB — D 3, TH 6. 2B — Silverstein (11); HR — Haar (1). SF — Meggs (2), Parradossi (1). SB — Pearson (1).
IP H R ER BB SO
Girodo 5 7 2 2 1 2
Learnard (L, 0-4) 2/3 0 4 0 3 0
Oursler 1 1/3 0 0 0 0 0
W. Browning 1 0 0 0 0 0
T. Browning (W, 3-4) 6 5 2 2 0 5
Guston 2 0 0 0 0 0
Purcell 1 0 0 0 0 1
WP — Learnard (9), T. Browning (6). PB — Tierney.
T — 2:02. A — 2178.
Next — Season has ended. The Rex finished 15-11 in the second half of the season, one game behind second half Central Division champion Nashville.