Terre Haute’s Prospect League playoff chances took a huge hit Sunday evening when the Chillicothe Paints rallied for three runs in the eighth inning and held on to edge the Rex 7-6 at Bob Warn Field.
The Rex’s Austin Weiler socked two baseballs out of the park for home runs and finished 3 for 4 with three runs batted in, but the defending league champions are now 4 1/2 games behind second-place Chillicothe for the East Division’s final playoff spot with 10 regular-season games remaining.
Weiler’s first roundtripper, a two-run bomb to left-center field with Brendan Sher on base, capped a three-run first inning that gave Terre Haute a 3-0 lead. Weiler’s solo shot to straightaway center in the third boosted the Rex’s advantage to 4-0.
The visitors didn’t manage any runs until the fifth, but that’s when they got four to tie the score. Cole Andrews doubled in one of them and Justin McIntyre singled in another.
Sacrifice flies by Sher in the fifth and Will Hayes in the sixth catapulted the home team back on top 6-4.
But in the eighth, the Paints greeted new reliever Colten Panaranto with a walk, a double by Gavin Homer, an RBI groundout by Andrews, an RBI single by Trey Smith, a single by Ethan Hajdukovic and an outfield error that enabled Hajdukovic to score the go-ahead run.
Nate Haugh pitched the final 1 2/3 innings of two-hit, scoreless ball to preserve the victory for Chillicothe.
“Tonight was a huge game for us," Rex manager Tyler Wampler told the Tribune-Star afterward.
"Unfortunately, we didn’t get the job done. I thought our guys battled like they always do. We just didn’t execute offensively and make a couple routine plays when we needed to."
This was the final Sunday home game of 2019 for the Rex. This also was the final time the Rex will face Chillicothe this season.
"We’ve got 10 games left to give it all we have," Wampler emphasized.