News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

June 8, 2014

Rex vex Dans

Good 'D,' stingy pitching, timely hits lift to win over Danviille, 2-1

PARIS, IL — A big reason for the strong start for the Terre Haute Rex has been solid defense. The Rex have just five errors during a run of six wins in their past seven games.

An errorless performance Sunday in front of 855 fans included two clutch double plays and an excellent save at first base by Andrew Cope.

The quality glovework and an unblemished bullpen performance helped right-hander Tommy Strunc improve to 2-0 in his second start. And it sent the Rex to a 2-1 victory over Danville and a 7-3 record on the season, ensuring they’ll stay in first place in a tight West Division race in the Prospect League early in the season.

“The pitching was good on both sides, our guys did well working out of jams,” said Rex second baseman Matthew Chavarria, who had a double. “We got the timely hits when we needed them. Good win for the Rex, and we’re going to stay in first place all season.”

Strunc, a 6-foot-2 right-hander for Creighton and an All-Star for the Rex in 2012, didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning when Keith Shumaker drilled an RBI single to right-center field.

Strunc struck out the No. 3 and No. 4 hitters in the Dans’ lineup then issued a second walk of the inning to Paddy O’Brien to put a runner in scoring position for Shumaker.

The Rex offense countered right away in the bottom of the fourth.

Grayson Atwood’s bid for his first home run bounced off the left-field wall for an RBI double in the fourth to drive home Chavarria, who had connected for a one-out double.

The Rex offense executed well in the fifth as Cope worked a leadoff walk, Ryan Sabo bunted him to second and Cayce Bredlau delivered a line drive for the go-ahead run.

That was all the Rex bullpen needed.

Lefty Kevin Weissheier left two Dans stranded in the sixth, and Indiana State right-hander Brad Lombard had two scoreless innings to set up closer Ben Morrison.

Lombard had some help from shortstop Ray Perez and Cope, who came up with a big dig at first base to keep the tying run from scoring from third base.

Morrison, a Western Kentucky freshman, struck out two to in a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

Early in the game, Strunc was just missing with some of his pitches, giving the Dans some opportunities.

Chavarria had started the one-out double play from his second-base position as the Rex defense helped Strunc out of some minor jams he found himself in because of walks.

Manager Bobby Segal liked what he saw from Strunc, who’s trying to re-acclimate to a starting role after converting to a bullpen role for Creighton this spring.

“Great arm. Two springs ago after he left us, he went back and was Creighton’s Friday night guy. He obviously has very good stuff, we’re just trying to get him back in the swing of things, being a starter again,” Segal said. “Get his confidence back and he’s going to be big for us.”

Strunc wasn’t thrilled with his walk total, but was happy to get the Rex a win.  

“The defense came up big; anytime you can walk away with one run despite six walks, the defense is doing something right. Have to cut down on the walks just a bit,” Strunc said.

Segal just wants his pitchers to trust the defense behind them.

“It’s important for pitchers to fill up the zone, but when you have a defense behind you, it’s that much more important,” Segal said.

The Rex play Wednesday at Springfield.

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