TERRE HAUTE —
Nick Johnson knew his day in Prospect League baseball Sunday was going to be special. He may not have counted on it being so suspenseful.
Johnson, a second-year Rex player from Lakeside, Ariz., and Mesa Community College, was set to play nine positions in nine innings during Sunday’s next-to-last game of the season against the Springfield Sliders at Bob Warn Field.
Johnson caught the first inning and then moved successively to first, second, third, shortstop, left field, center field and right field. As he came back to the dugout for the bottom of the eighth inning, however, the score was tied 2-2 and he was set to make his first pitching appearance of the summer with the game on the line in the ninth.
Not to worry. Johnson contributed to a decisive three-run rally in the bottom of the eighth with a single, scored a run on a close play at the plate, then warmed up and earned a save.
Johnson gave up a leadoff single to Travis Combs in the ninth, then got the next batter on a fly to center. A wild pitch put Combs in scoring position, but two straight grounders to third base ended the game and gave Josh Dove his second pitching victory in as many days.
The win also clinched a winning season for the Rex, who close out the year with a 7:05 p.m. home game today against Hannibal.
Springfield took a 2-0 lead with a pair of run-scoring singles in the top of the fourth inning, but the Rex tied it after two were out in the bottom of the inning when Owen Conway was hit by a pitch and stole second, Evan Heptig walked and Tyler Wampler hit a two-run double.
It stayed 2-2 until Izaak Silva led off the bottom of the eighth with a single. Johnson followed with a hit of his own, both runners advanced on Conway’s bunt and both scored on a single by Heptig. Heptig took second on the throw home, eventually scoring on a two-out single by Atlee Schwab.
Bragging rights could be on the line today for the 2013 Rex batting championship. With three hits Sunday, Kyle Kempf is now hitting .338 and Wampler .337; the two are fourth and fifth in the league respectively.
Springfield 000 200 000 — 2 9 2
Terre Haute 000 200 03x — 5 9 0
W — Dove, 3-1. L — Drummond. Sv — Johnson (1).
Highlights — For the Rex, Kyle Kempf was 3 for 4; Evan Heptig was 1 for 2 with 2 runs and 2 RBIs; Tyler Wampler was 1 for 4 with a two-run double; and Nick Johnson played all nine positions and was 1 for 3 with a run scored.
Next — The Terre Haute Rex (31-28) complete their 2013 season with a 7:05 p.m. home game today against Hannibal.