The Lafayette Aviators did their part for the Terre Haute Rex in Prospect League baseball, so Terre Haute’s playoff chances are still alive after the Rex’s 4-1 win over the Champion City Kings.
A franchise-record crowd announced by Rex management at 3,210 filled Bob Warn Field and Blayke Cutts, Jake Armentrout and Brigham Booe took care of the pitching in a game that could have been more one-sided than the score indicated.
Chillicothe won at West Virgiinia to clinch an East Division playoff berth and take over first place, but the Rex still trail Danville by three games with three games to play — two between those two teams at Danville after the Rex play at Cape Girardeau and Danville faces Chillicothe today.
The Rex left 11 runners on base and lost five more on the bases, but their aggressiveness also paid off on several occasions in impressive fashion.
Cutts was magnificent in the meantime, pitching 61/3 innings before his pitch count ran out. He allowed two hits — one of those cut down trying to take an extra base — and walked just one. Booe, in just his third appearance of the season, struck out the side in the ninth for the save.
Armentrout accounted for what little suspense the game had in the top of the eighth. After finishing the seventh handily, he had a brain cramp with one out in the eighth and failed to cover first base on a grounder by Dawson Degnan.
He then gave up a hit; committed a two-out pickoff error to allow the run to score; then walked two in a row as the Rex — despite some impressive stall attempts — couldn’t get Booe ready quickly enough. A bases-loaded fly to Justin Jenkins stranded three Kings, however, and a two-out ninth-inning double didn’t faze Booe at all.
Terre Haute’s first two runs came courtesy of Mason Speirs in the bottom of the second. After a leadoff walk and a passed ball, Speirs doubled for the RBI and scored on a hit by Mitchell Garrity.
The Rex flashed their speed in the third. After hits by Austin Weilerand Brett McCleary, Jeremy Houston bunted down the third-base line for a hit. Champ City’s Stephen Cullen couldn’t make the pickup, but also failed to pick up the ball lying at his feet. Weiler raced past him and slid home with a run.
Jenkins, who had a three-hit night including a triple, produced the other run in the bottom of the sixth. He beat out an infield single and then, when the Kings ignored him, stole second unmolested as the ball was being returned to the pitcher. He then beat the throw to third on Jacob Mulcahy’s fielder’s choice and scored on the front end of a double steal.
Whether the Rex catch lightning in a bottle for a second straight season, it’s been a good campaign according to manager Tyler Wampler.
“No. 1, it’s been a blast to work with this group of guys,” Wampler said. “They’ve worked hard and competed to the end, and that’s all you can ask for as a coach.
“We’ll have a winning season, and that’s something to be proud of,” he continued. “Unfortunately we had a tough stretch in the middle of the season that hurt us in the standings. But there were a lot of highlights: we broke the league record for wins in a row, and we had a handful of walkoff wins.”
Playing in the much tougher East instead of their former home in the West didn’t help either.
“The travel was definitely tougher [in addition to better competitition], and that was an adjustment for the entire program,” Wampler noted.
CHAMPION CITY (AB-R-H-RBI) — Freeland c 3-0-0-0, Hall 2b 3-0-1-0, Carney cf 4-0-0-0, Cullen 3b 3-0-0-0, Ernst dh 4-0-0-0, Hughes rf 4-0-2-0, Degnan lf 4-1-1-0, Mapes ss 3-0-1-0, Swetland 1b 3-0-0-0. Totals 31-1-5-0.
TERRE HAUTE (AB-R-H-RBI) — Garrity lf 4-0-1-1, Jenkins cf 5-1-3-0, Mulcahy 3b 4-0-0-0, Weiler 1b 3-1-2-0, McCleary dh 2-0-1-0, Houston ss 3-0-1-0, Sher 2b 3-1-2-0, Speirs c 3-1-1-1, Bridge rf 4-0-0-0. Totals 31-4-11-2.
Champion City 000 000 010 — 1
Terre Haute 021 001 00x — 4
McCleary reached on catcher’s interference.
E — Hall, Cullen, Freeland, Armentrout. LOB — CC 6, TH 11. 2B — Hughes 2, Speirs. 3B — Jenkins. SB — Jenkins 2, Mulcahy. CS — Garrity, Jenkins, Speirs, McCleary.
Champion City IP H R ER BB SO
Ring (L 0-1) 2 6 3 3 4 0
Hohm 3 3 0 0 0 2
Hunt 3 2 1 1 1 5
Terre Haute IP H R ER BB SO
Cutts (W 3-3) 61/3 2 0 0 1 5
Armentrout 12/3 2 1 1 2 1
Booe (S 1) 1 1 0 0 0 3
HBP — by Hohm (Speirs), by Hunt (Garrity). WP — Hunt 2. PB — Freeland 2. T — 2:56.