The red-hot Terre Haute Rex summer baseball team extended its season-long winning streak to six games, knocking off the Lafayette Aviators 8-6 and 9-6 in a Prospect League doubleheader Sunday evening at Bob Warn Field.
In the first game, Lafayette jumped ahead 5-2 on only one hit after 1 1/2 innings. But it was a big hit.
After Trey Sweeney and Blake Schmitt led off with walks and Chris Monroe got hit by a Kaleb Huxford pitch to load the bases, Braedon Blackford stroked a three-run triple. Blackford later came home on Huxford’s third wild pitch of the inning to increase the Aviators’ margin to 4-0.
The Rex answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame. Aaron Beck led off with a single. One out later, Jason Mulcahy singled and Romero Harris followed with a double into the gap in right-center field to plate Beck. An RBI groundout by Ross Indlecoffer enabled Mulcahy to race home for the second run.
Lafayette tacked on a hitless run in the second. Sweeney reached base on a fielding error and later sprinted home on a Monroe groundout.
Once again, the Rex replied with two runs in the bottom of the frame. Ethan Hunter led off with a double over the right fielder’s head. One out later, an infield single by Cole Albers brought home Hunter. After Beck reached on an error — one of three committed by the visitors in this contest — Justin Jenkins hustled hard to beat out an infield single that allowed Albers to touch home and sliced the Terre Haute deficit to 5-4.
Lafayette tallied one more run on a Nick Mayerhofer RBI triple in the top of the third to boost its advantage to 6-4, then the Rex grabbed the lead for good in the bottom of the frame.
After Austin Weiler and Hunter drew two-out walks, right-handed Mason Speirs — the No. 8 hitter — lofted an opposite-field, three-run homer off the “Honey Creek Collision” blanket to catapult the home team on top 7-6.
The Rex manufactured an insurance run in the sixth when Albers greeted new reliever Jason DiCicco with a single. Two sacrifice bunts advanced Albers to third base, then he scored on an RBI single to right by Mulcahy.
Terre Haute ended Game 1 in style with a 4-6-3 double play started on a grounder to Albers near second base. Joey Rogers picked up the win, relieving Huxford and going 3 1/3 innings, before Jason Frankel earned his third save of the season.
In Game 2, the Aviators again put themselves ahead early by scoring two runs in the top of the first. But this time, the Rex surpassed them with three runs — two unearned — in the bottom of the first. An Indlecoffer sac fly plated Beck before the other two came home on an error.
The Rex went ahead 4-2 with a run in the second when Mulcahy singled home Beck.
That margin grew to 6-2 with two runs in the fourth — on a Jenkins homer with Will Hayes on base — and 9-2 with three runs in the fifth.
Terre Haute survived a four-run sixth by the Aviators to emerge triumphant as starter Garrett Welch hurled five innings to get the victory and Colten Panaranto pitched a perfect seventh inning to chalk up his sixth save.
"I thought the first win today was impressive," Rex manager Tyler Wampler told the Tribune-Star afterward.
"Our starter didn’t make it out of the first inning and the bullpen picked him up the rest of the way. Our hitters picked us up as well and answered Lafayette each of those first three innings. Mason Speirs' three-run homer was huge and helped swing the momentum our way."
An interesting statistical note for the Rex from Game 2, Hunter knocked in three runs and scored one without the benefit of a hit.
“Garrett Welch had another great start for us in Game 2," Wampler noted. "He overcame a couple mistakes made early by our defense. We also made a couple big plays defensively. Will Hayes and Ethan Hunter turned in a highlight-reel double play in a big spot in the game. It was a great and much-needed sweep at this point in the season.”
The sweep left the Rex eight games behind the first-place Danville Dans in the East Division.