Coming off an up-and-down month of June, the Terre Haute Rex had to be happy to see the calendar flip over to July, giving them somewhat of a fresh start and a place to build off of with the East Division-leading Danville Dans visiting Bob Warn Field Monday evening.
It was a chance for the Rex, who found themselves seven games back of the Dans entering the day, to begin their climb back up the standings in hopes of earning a spot in the Prospect League playoffs.
And for the first five innings, it looked like the same June-script would be written for Rex starting pitcher Tommy Sommer, who was handed tough-luck losses in his previous two starts due to one bad pitch that left the ballpark.
When he left in the sixth, his team trailed by two and only saw the deficit grow to six, but the late-inning heroics the Rex have become known for struck again as six runs came across the plate in the bottom of the eighth to even the game.
But with two outs in the top of the ninth, Danville reclaimed the lead on a two-out solo home run from Max Jung Goldberg that proved to be the difference, dropping the Rex 10-9.
Terre Haute got the scoring started in the second when it loaded the bases with singles from Brett McCleary and Aaron Beck and a walk to Brendan Sher sandwiched in between.
With no outs, it was a golden opportunity for the home team to put up a few runs to back starter Tommy Sommer, who was making his third start of the summer.
They were able to scratch across one on a sacrifice fly from Carter Bridge, but left two at second and third.
Danville responded in the fourth on an RBI double from Aidan Malm that zipped over the head of Rex centerfielder Justin Jenkins and banged off the wall.
Terre Haute wouldn’t allow the tie to stand for too long, though, as a passed ball allowed it to retake the lead before Jacob Mulcahy lined an RBI double of his own off the left-center field wall, giving the hosts a 3-1 advantage.
The way Sommer cruised through the front five frames, surrendering one run and throwing just 62 pitches, things looked to be going the way of the blue and white.
Sommer walked the leadoff hitter to begin the sixth, but quickly got a flyout to center and his sixth strikeout to follow.
However, the Dans had some two-out magic up their sleeves and put it to use.
Malm doubled in his second run of the game to slice the Rex lead to one. Assistant coach Jeremy Lucas made his way out to the mound thereafter to settle Sommer down, but the Indiana University southpaw issued a walk to Ed Johnson and then gave up a three-run home run to Craig Keuchel, which forced Rex manager Tyler Wampler to make the call to the bullpen.
Sommer, who pitched much better than his line score indicted in his first two starts – both against Chillicothe – did so again Monday night, despite leaving the game on the losing side of the ledger.
Danville wasn’t done scoring in the fifth as two more came across on an RBI double and a throwing error, putting the home team in a four-run hole it had to find a way to dig out of to begin the two-game home-and-home series off on the right foot.
Terre Haute opened the seventh with a leadoff triple from Mitchell Garrity and a one-out walk to Ross Indlecoffer, who then went on to steal second, but both were left on the base paths.
To make matters worse, in the next half inning – top of the eighth – Keuchel and Cade Brown hit back-to-back solo home runs over the left-centerfield wall to extend the Dans’ lead to 9-3. It was Keuchel’s second homer of the night.
For the second time on the night, Terre Haute loaded the bases with no outs on a pair of singles by Beck and Bridge and a walk by Sher. And also for the second time, it looked like the Rex were going to leave the frame with just one run scored when Ethan Hunter’s sac fly to right scored Beck.
But a throwing error by Danville second baseman Mick Moody kept the threat alive, which turned out to be more than important as Justin Jenkins knocked in a second run on a groundout and a wild pitch scored a third eighth-inning run, cutting the deficit to 9-6 in a blink of an eye.
Danville brought in its third reliever with two outs and runners on the corners, hoping to escape the jam, but Mulcahy’s slow chopper to the glove-hand side (left) of third baseman Max Jung Goldberg allowed the first baseman to beat the throw for an RBI single, while moving Indlecoffer, who walked and stole second, to third.
He later came home on the inning’s second wild pitch. That wouldn’t be the last of those, though, as a third wild pitch was fired to the backstop, allowing Mulcahy to score to tie the score at nine apiece.
A chance to walk it off in front of a juiced up home crowd seemed more than plausible, especially after Rex flame-throwing reliever Colten Panaranto retired the first two batters he saw in short order and got ahead of Goldberg 0-2, but the Danville third baseman deposited the breaking ball over the centerfield fence that turned out to be the game winner.
DANVILLE (AB-R-H-RBI) — Toups cf 4-1-0-0, Meggs dh 4-1-0-0, Jung Goldberg 3b 5-1-2-2-1, Malm rf 4-2-2-2, Johnson ss 3-1-0-0, Keuchel c 4-2-2-4, Brown 1b 3-2-1-1, Bachelier lf 4-1-1-1, Moody 2b 3-0-1-0. Totals 34-10-9-9.
TERRE HAUTE (AB-R-H-RBI) — Garrity lf 4-1-2-0, Jenkins cf 5-1-0-1, Indlecoffer dh 3-2-1-0, Mulcahy 1b 5-1-3-2, McCleary c 3-1-1-0, Sher 3b 3-1-0-0, Beck rf 5-1-2-0, Bridge 2b 4-1-2-1, Hunter ss 4-0-0-1. Totals 26-2-11-5.
E — Jung Goldberg, Bridge, Moody. LOB — D 3, TH 7. 2B — Malm 2, Mulcahy, Bachelier. 3B – Garrity. HR – Keuchel 2, Brown, Goldberg. SB – Toups, Moody, Indlecoffer 2. CS – Moody. SF — Bridge, Hunter.
McCarty (W)=1 1/3=1=1=1=1=1