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July 27, 2013

Rex clean up: Terre Haute pitching keeps Gems lookin’ rough, 5-2

TERRE HAUTE — Louis Cohen didn’t allow a hit until the seventh inning Friday at Bob Warn Field, and his Terre Haute Rex teammates finally came up with some clutch hits.

The result was a 5-2 victory over the visiting Quincy Gems, making Neil Walton a winner in his first game as manager following the resignation of Ronnie Prettyman earlier in the day.

Prettyman has left to pursue other opportunities, Walton — his former teammate at Cal State-Fullerton — said after the game.

“We came out and played a pretty good game,” Walton noted. “It was nice to string some hits together and throw strikes on the mound.”

Getting hits wasn’t a problem early for the Rex, but scoring runs was. Terre Haute (25-25) wasted a leadoff double by Tyler Wampler and a one-out single by Brian Wolfe in the first, one-out singles by Cody Gardner and Zach Evans in the second and a leadoff walk to Kalik May and a one-out single by Kyle Kempf in the third.

Cohen was cruising, however, and a leadoff walk to Atlee Schwab started a decisive fourth-inning rally.

Evans followed with a one-out triple to the left-center gap, and Owen Conway and Wampler both got hustle doubles — Conway racing to second when Gems left fielder Erik Maki couldn’t make a diving catch on a line drive, then Wampler never stopped after hitting a soft liner over shortstop.

Cohen had issued a leadoff walk in the second inning, but nothing else. When Conway made a diving catch in left to start the seventh inning, Cohen had retired 13 in a row and a grounder to Gardner made it 14.

“[Cohen] gave us a great effort, and we all knew what he was doing,” Conway said after the game. “We were going to leave it all out there for him.”

Of the diving catch, Conway said, “I’d looked up at the scoreboard. I knew he had a no-no going. It was one of those balls where you can’t lay up, you have to make the effort [to make the catch].”

With two outs in the seventh, Eastern Illinois outfielder Caleb Howell broke up the no-hitter with a grounder through the right side. After a walk, Thomas Richards drove in Quincy’s first run with a shot up the middle.

The Gems added another run in the seventh on an infield hit followed by a long double by Steven Seiter. Cohen kept the tying run from scoring with a strikeout and a grounder that ended his evening.

“He’s been a quality starter for us throughout the summer,” Walton said later. “We’re getting a little low on pitchers, so him going that far into the game was great.”

Brandyn Hall pitched two scoreless innings for the save and the Rex offense, which had wasted a couple of other chances, gave him cushion in the bottom of the eighth.

Conway started the inning with his second double of the night, and runs scored on a double by Wolfe and a three-base error on a ball hit by Kempf.

For Conway, batting ninth in the order after being in a power slot much of the season, the extra-base hits were much needed.

“I’ve had a weird summer. I’ve struggled the majority,” he admitted. “Coach Prettyman and coach Neil have helped me with understanding the game and where I am as a hitter ... I’m taking steps in the right direction.”

Threat of rain postponed the showing of the movie “The Rookie” which 981 fans Friday had hoped to enjoy after the game. It’s now scheduled to be shown after the fireworks this evening, following the second game of a doubleheader — 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. — against Springfield.

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