TERRE HAUTE —
Erlin Santos and Derek Hannahs were poised to be the stars of the game, a game the Terre Haute Rex could very well have won 1-0 in nine innings and sent a crowd of 1,309 fans home happy.
But it was simply not to be.
A miscommunication on a double steal tied the game in the eighth inning, then a two-out slow roller down the third base line produced what proved to be the winning run in the 10th inning as Butler nipped the Rex 2-1 in a Prospect League baseball game Saturday at Bob Warn Field.
The loss also snapped a five-game winning streak for the Rex, dropping them to 7-8 on the season.
“We didn’t execute when we had our opportunities,” Rex manager Brian Dorsett said. “Timely hitting, didn’t have it tonight … other than Hannahs putting the ball in play.
“Just one of those nights, you don’t know why. Execution, a couple of things caught us off-balance. We were on our heels a couple plays and [Butler] took advantage of it. We’ve been on a roll. We’ve just got to get back going again.”
Santos made an impressive debut for the Rex on the mound, living up to his advance billing as MVP in the recent National Junior College World Series with seven shutout innings.
“[Santos] definitely pitched well enough to win,” Dorsett said. “He threw about 150 pitches in his World Series game about a week and a half ago, but he felt strong at 99 pitches tonight. The [seventh] inning he pitched so good. He just went out and walked a guy on four pitches, something he hadn’t done all day. I think he just kind of got gassed.
“He’s got a great arm, great stuff, four good pitches, moves [the ball] around. He’s a real nice addition to the team.”
The Rex were also limited in scoring opportunities, the Blue Sox bidding for a third straight shutout after blanking Slippery Rock in its two previous games.
On Saturday, Butler starter Matt Lengel continued that recent trend, tossing a no-hitter for 5 2/3 innings. Reliever Matt Diaz kept the no-hitter going into the seventh inning.
But that scoreless streak ended as Koby Kraemer led off the Rex seventh with a bunt. The ball was fielded by the Butler pitcher, but his throw sailed into Kraemer as he approached first base, the ball dropped for an error.
Two outs later Kraemer was standing on third, after a sacrifice bunt by Brett Teschne and a ground out. Hannahs followed with the first hit for the Rex, a RBI-double splitting the gap in right-centerfield for a 1-0 lead.
“It seemed pretty good there,” Hannahs said. “I didn’t get a lot of [at bats] this year at Ohio State, so just coming in and figuring out what I need to do at the plate. Starting to feel like I’m getting back into it.”
Santos’ magic ran out at the outset of the eighth inning, walking ninth-place batter Brian Lares on four pitches. Santos was replaced by Chris Bossenbery, who was greeted by a bunt single by Stephen Vranka. Matt Berezo forced out Vranka at second base, moving Lares to third.
Berezo attempted a steal of second, but Rex catcher Brett Teschner’s throw was not fielded cleanly by his middle infielders, allowing Lares to scamper home with the tying run. Ironically, Berezo was thrown out by Teschner trying to steal third to end the inning.
“We had a misunderstanding at second [base] and we should have had the guy out and ended the inning right there, which would have let us win the game in the ninth,” Hannahs noted. “Just kind of unfortunate tonight.”
Still, the score stayed 1-1 until the fateful 10th inning.
Bossenbery walked Jon Danielczyk to lead off the 10th, and was sacrificed to second. Nick Cunningham was summoned to replace Bossenbery, retiring Vranka on a tapper back to the mound for the second out.
But Berezo’s slow roller to Kraemer followed, his speed allowing him to reach first safely, Danielczyk scoring from third.
The Rex’ missed an earlier golden scoring opportunity in the sixth inning. Lengel fanned the first two Rex batters, but walked Chris Manning and Ronnie Mitchell, then plunked with a pitch to load the bases.
Despite no hits allowed to that point in the game, Lengel was lifted for Matt Diaz, who quickly ended the threat by inducing John Loeffler to ground out harmlessly to first base. Diaz pitched the final 4 1/3 innings, allowing just one unearned run and striking out four Rex batters.
The Rex will play Butler (8-7) again today, with first pitch at 5:05 p.m.