TERRE HAUTE —
Late Night at Bob Warn Field continued an unexpected run on Wednesday.
Unfortunately for the Terre Haute Rex, their third extra-inning home game did not send the 861 fans home happy.
On Tuesday, the Rex were able to overcome early struggles to win in the 11th inning. On Wednesday, the Rex spotted Hannibal a five-run lead, but rallied to force extra innings again. This time, Hannibal put two runs across in the 10th and the Rex had no response as Terre Haute lost 8-6.
In Terre Haute’s five home games, extra innings have been needed in three of them.
“It seems like it takes us a little bit to get started. The last three nights, we’ve only had a few hits in the first five innings. If we could get off to a better start, I think it would help us. We always seem to give up the lead early in the game and end up winning or losing in extras,” said Rex relief pitcher Cole Vicars.
Rex manager Brian Dorsett accentuated the positive, lauding the Rex for staying in it after their early deficit.
“We’re six games into it. I love the fact that they’re battling. We’re a play away from winning the game. We were down 6-1? To come back from that, it’s huge,” Dorsett said.
Hannibal (3-2) scored five runs off Rex starter Clayton Hicks as they held a 6-1 advantage going into the middle of the sixth inning.
The big blow was a two-run home run by L.J. Watson in the first, but the Cavemen were also able to score in the second, third, fifth and sixth innings.
Vicars replaced Hicks, and though Vicars conceded the run in the sixth, he settled Hannibal down. Vicars allowed two hits in three innings of work and was unaffected by a line drive into the box that hit him on his wrist. His ERA this season is 2.25.
Pitching is just one role Vicars has. He’s already played in the infield and outfield for the Rex.
“Whether I play the infield, outfield or pitch, I’m ready to go,” said Vicars, a Terre Haute native.
The Rex bats woke up in the bottom of the sixth. One-out singles by Kyle Burnam and Alex Guthrie and a two-out walk by Jared Broughton loaded the bases for Koby Kraemer. The Terre Haute native hit a deep fly to left-center that dropped between left fielder Gardner Richey and center fielder Matt Burton. All three runners scored and the Rex cut their deficit to 6-4 in one fell swoop.
The Rex threatened to break through in the seventh with runners at second and third and one out, but Hannibal brought reliever Taylor McKinney into the game and he got the Cavemen out of a jam with a groundout and strikeout.
A similar rally produced a run in the eighth as Jase Morgan led off with a double and eventually stole home on a double steal, but the Rex left a runner in scoring position to end the frame with the Rex trailing 6-5.
Terre Haute kept knocking on the door in the ninth. Cooper Smith led off with a walk, was sacrificed to second and scored on a two-out game-tying double by Alex Guthrie to make it 6-6.
On the next at-bat, Morgan slapped a liner to left field for a single, giving Guthrie a chance to score the winning run. However, Hannibal left fielder Patrick Sheehan, a defensive replacement, threw a perfect strike to home plate and Guthrie was tagged out to end a thrilling inning.
“We executed, but the guy made a great throw from left field. Jase did a good job of squaring up and getting the ball on the nose. He drilled it, but the left fielder and catcher made the play,” Dorsett said.
Rex pitcher Brandon Dorsett, who had entered the game in the ninth, couldn’t hold the lead in the 10th. Ryan Porter led off with a single and Sheehan drew a walk. With one out, an intentional walk loaded the bases for Hannibal’s Brett Frantini. The Caveman catcher smacked a solid single through the middle to score Porter and Sheehan as Hannibal went back in front 8-6.
“I was happy with Brandon. He had a great ninth inning. The ground ball he allowed in the 10th turned out to be a base hit. Tough pitch outside the zone, it wasn’t even a strike, their hitter did a good job of driving the runs in,” Brian Dorsett said.
The Rex had nothing left in the tank in the 10th as Hannibal pitcher James Hudelson struck out the side.
The Rex (3-3) embark on a two-game road trip tonight as they play at Dubois County.