TERRE HAUTE —
It was a long but fruitful night for the playoff-bound Terre Haute Rex. The “playoff-bound” moniker became a reality for the Rex with a perfect storm of three events.
The Rex completed a win of a suspended game, then Prospect League West Division first-half winner Dubois County edged Quincy 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth inning, and it was capped off when the Rex toppled Springfield 15-5 in their regularly scheduled baseball game before 911 fans at Bob Warn Field on Wednesday.
As a result, the West Division second-half champion Rex will face Dubois County in the one-game Prospect League playoff semifinals at League Stadium in Huntingburg on Tuesday.
“Excited for the ballclub. This is what we've been working for,” Rex manager Brian Dorsett said. “It was our goal to win the second half [of the season].”
The Rex jumped ahead early and never trailed in their regularly scheduled game with Springfield.
In the first inning, Patrick Chandler walked, stole second, went to third on a ground out, then scored on a two-out single by Nick Johnson to put the Rex up quickly at 1-0.
The Rex followed up that single tally with a five-spot in the second. Five singles, a double steal, a wild pitch and consecutive two-run singles by Michael Schroeder and Brett Teschner ballooned the Rex lead to 6-0.
Chandler and Johnson teamed up again for a single tally in the fourth. Chandler walked, stole second, went to third on a ground out, but this time scored on a sacrifice fly by Johnson for a 7-0 lead.
Rex starter Nick Cunningham lasted just three innings, despite allowing no runs, two hits and walking four with two strikeouts. Rex relievers Grant Reifers, Clay Manering and Alex Sachs closed out the victory.
The first four Springfield batters reached safely (walk, two singles, double) off Reifers in the top of the fifth. Manering ended the rally, but the Sliders had cut the Rex lead to 7-4 by the midway point in the game.
The Sliders crept within 7-5 in the seventh off Manering. Ryan Aper had an RBI double, but it wasn’t a two-run double as a nice relay from Chandler to Edmund Cheatham to catcher Nate Bowles nailed a sliding Reagan Fowler at home plate to end the inning.
The Rex got that run back and then some in the bottom of the seventh after two outs.
Teschner singled, then pinch-runner Jacob Hayes stole second and went to third on a wild pitch, scoring on a double by Michael Eberle. Eberle later scored on a throwing error, before Nate Bowles followed with an RBI single for a 10-5 lead. The Rex added five insurance runs in the eighth inning off a beleaguered Sliders’ pitching staff.
“To clinch it early like we have does a lot for our ballclub in terms of setting up [pitching] arms, getting our bodies rested,” Dorsett noted. “We have a heckuva ballclub. Everyone can play. We'll be playing guys that haven't had a lot of at bats [the final five games]. This is a club that really wants to battle every night, loves to work extra. Couldn't be more proud of this ballclub.”
The Rex (19-7) will play their final road games of the season at Springfield today and Friday, then play three consecutive home games Saturday, Sunday and Monday to close out the regular season.
• Suspended game — The Rex held on to defeat Springfield 10-9 in the suspended game, despite a couple of anxious moments. Setting the stage, the Rex led 10-8 with two outs in the top of the ninth, the Sliders with runners at first and third.
Manering took the mound for the Rex when the game resumed, allowing a double on his first pitch to Aper. One run scored, the Rex right fielder overshot the cutoff man, but the potential tying run was held at third base. Reifers was summoned to face pinch-hitter Chase Hainline, striking him out swinging four pitches later to end the game.
The game was suspended on July 16 because of an illegal mound visit and pitching change the Rex made in the ninth inning. Springfield protested the game and the protest was upheld by the Prospect League.
Moments after the suspended game, Springfield manager Pete Romero protested the regularly scheduled game because it didn’t start in a timely manner.
This protest was taken under advisement by Prospect League commissioner David Chase, who was at the game. That protest was later dropped by Springfield.