Riding a four-game losing streak, the Terre Haute Rex were in search of a solid outing from their pitching staff and a few timely hits on the offensive side against Springfield Wednesday night at Bob Warn Field.
The good news? They received both.
Backed by a combined shutout and a lead that was added on to throughout the evening, the Rex snapped the skid with a 3-0 win.
“It was a good feeling to shake our guys’ hands after a win tonight,” Rex manager Tyler Wampler said. “Foster [Anshutz] threw really well for us. It was a shutout. It’s the second shout we’ve had all year. If you shut them out, you’re going to win.”
Needing to get off to a good start of a ball game when attempting to end a losing streak is big, and Terre Haute was successful in doing so Wednesday.
Using his speed, former Terre Haute South and current University of Southern Indiana middle infielder Ethan Hunter got the Rex on the board first.
Leading off the second inning, Hunter tapped a slow chopper down the third base line. Springfield third baseman Tyler Black charged the ball hard and barehanded it successfully, but when he began to unload for his throw to first, Hunter was already a step from the bag for an infield single.
He didn’t stick around first too long. A few pitches into Brendan Sher’s at-bat, Hunter broke for second and slid in safely. The throw skipped past the covering shortstop and into centerfield, allowing Hunter to scamper onto third, giving Sher a chance to knock him in.
And he did. On the 3-1 delivery from Springfield starter Conner Burnett, Sher tapped a slow grounder to third. Hunter didn’t waste any time deciding whether or not he should take a chance to score, and instead immediately broke for home.
Black thought about making a throw to nap the speedy sophomore, but after pump-faking that direction, decided to get the sure out at first while Hunter slid across the plate, giving his team an early 1-0 lead.
“That’s what we haven’t been able to do as of late. We haven’t scored first, we’ve usually been trailing and had to fight back. To have a lead early, I think it relaxed the dugout and the guys played free,” said Wampler of getting an early lead.
That proved to be enough run support for Rex starting pitcher Foster Anshutz, who was making his fifth Prospect League start of the summer.
In his previous two outings, the Eastern Illinois University southpaw threw a combined 11 ⅓ innings in which he surrendered four earned runs.
He continued his hot steak on the mound Wednesday, firing five scoreless innings.
Anshutz got out of a two-on, two-out jam in the first before settling in nicely over the second, third and fourth frames that saw him retire nine Sliders in a row.
Jared Cantu ended the streak with a hard-hit single up the middle in the fifth. Cantu would make his way around to third after a pair of walks were issued with two outs to load the bases with David Vilches, the Springfield three-hole hitter, due up.
Anshutz came right after the designated hitter with a heater on the inside part of the plate, which jammed Vilches and sent a blooper into right field.
Aaron Beck, who was playing deep, came sprinting in to make the shoestring catch before the ball touched the grass, preserving the lead and the shutout.
“We’ve been caught on our heels a lot this year and we got our guys ready to make plays [tonight],” said Wampler of Beck’s multi-run saving snag. “Saw a lot of good things defensively.”
The Rex not only kept the Sliders off the scoreboard in the fifth, but proceeded to add a run to its ledger in the same frame after Mitchell Garrity and Beck put together two-out singles on back-to-back pitches.
That kept the inning alive and allowed Ross Indlecoffer’s hot smash to third – that went as a fielding error – to score a second run.
Terre Haute padded its lead again in the sixth when Brendan Sher whacked a two-out solo home run over the left-centerfield fence, making it a 3-0 game.
The bullpen, that has been up and down throughout the season, shut the door the rest of the way by making the big pitches at right time.
Jacob Frankel (two innings) and Colten Panaranto (two innings) combined to shutout the Sliders over the final four innings, stranding seven runners on a night where Springfield left 13 runners on base.
“Overall, the staff has battled. They’ve done a good job. We’ve just had big innings during this losing streak, so to see them leave guys out there was huge,” Wampler pointed out.
Springfield brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth with two outs, but Panaranto ended the threat with a call strike three as fireworks shot into the Terre Haute sky simultaneously.
SPRINGFIELD (AB-R-H-RBI) — Hanafan cf 4-0-0-0, Ryan ss 3-0-2-0, Vilches dh 3-0-0-0, Friedrichs 1b 4-0-0-0, Cusumano 2b 4-0-0-0, Forbrick c 4-0-0-0, Black 3b 3-0-1-0, Cantu lf 4-0-1-0, Schild rf 3-0-1-0. Totals 32-0-5-0.
TERRE HAUTE (AB-R-H-RBI) — Garrity cf 3-1-2-0, Beck rf 4-0-1-0, Indlecoffer 1b 3-0-0--0, Mulcahy 3b 2-0-0-0, Jenkins dh 4-0-0-0, Hunter 2b 4-1-1-0, Sher ss 4-1-1-2, Armentrout lf 4-0-0-0, Frazier c 3-0-1-0. Totals 31-3-6-2.
E — Forbrick, Mulcahy. LOB — S 13, TH 4. 2B — Frazier. HR – Sher. SB – Ryan, Garrity 2, Hunter, Cantu.
Burnett (L, 3-3)=6=6=3=2=1=0
Anshultz (W, 4-1)=5=2=0=0=4=2
Panaranto (Sv 5)=2=1=0=0=3=1
PB – Forbrick. T — 2:20.
Next — Terre Haute Rex (13-17) visit Springfield (9-19) Thursday.