Two Prospect League teams made the game of baseball a little more complicated than it needed to be Thursday night at Bob Warn Field.
And although the host Terre Haute Rex survived a five-run deficit once, they were unable to overcome Will Harless’s two-out, two-strike, two-run homer in the top of the ninth and fell 9-7 to the West Virginia Miners.
The rubber game of the three-game series between the two teams was nicely played until the sixth inning, when the two teams sent a combined 20 batters to the plate with help from their opponent.
In the top of the frame, with the Rex leading 2-1, the Miners got an infield hit, a sacrifice and a walk to put runners at first and second with one out and Harless at the plate. He grounded to Jacob Mulcahy at third and Mulcahy, seeing the chance for an inning-ending double play, charged too hard and booted the ball to load the bases.
Jonathan Pasillas followed with a two-run single and took second on the throw home, putting the Miners ahead 3-2 with runners at second and third. With the infield pulled in, the ball was hit again to Mulcahy, who fielded the ball and dived trying to get Harless going back to third. Harless was called safe — video replay is not available in the Prospect League — and the Miners went on to add four more runs on a wild pitch, a two-run double by Clay Wisner and a run-scoring bloop single by Clayton Mehlbauer.
With a 7-2 lead, however, the Miners got generous themselves. Three straight walks loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning; Brendan Sher hit a sacrifice fly; Brett McCleary got a three-run homer inside the left-field foul pole; and Ethan Hunter hit a two-out single and came around on a walk and two wild pitches to tie the game at 7-7.
Relievers Jacob Rucker of the Miners and Jacob Frankel of the Rex kept that score intact until two out in the top of the ninth. Frankel got ahead in the count but couldn’t retire dangerous Matt Rubayo, who eventually walked, and Harless hit a 1-and-2 pitch over the left-field fence. Ross Indlecoffer drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the ninth, after Justin Jenkins was robbed of a hit leading off the inning, but Nick Turnbull — who entered the game with an earned run average of 15.00 — got back-to-back strikeouts to end it.
The Rex had taken a 1-0 lead without a hit in the bottom of the second when Mulcahy walked and was forced at second on Sher’s grounder. Sher stole second, continued to third on a throwing error and scored on a passed ball.
Rubayo got the first hit off Garrett Welch in the top of the fourth, a one-out single that drove in Michael Pineiro, who had walked and stolen a base.
The Rex didn’t get a hit off two different West Virginia pitchers until the bottom of that inning, when Sher hit his first homer of the season for the 2-1 lead.
Now 11-13, the Rex are at home again today for a 7:05 game against Chillicothe.