Rex do their part, sweep first-place Dans

·5 min read

Aug. 6—Needing to win the last three games of a baseball season to keep playoff hopes alive is never an easy thing, and having to do it against the best team in the league should make it even harder.

But sometimes it doesn't, as evidenced by the Rex's sweep over Danville in a Prospect League doubleheader Friday at Bob Warn Field.

The home team won the first game 12-2 — eventually — and took the nightcap 8-2. Clinton was leading the Illinois Valley Pistol Shrimp in another game, and if the Pistol Shrimp didn't rally they will be in a virtual tie with the Rex for the second playoff spot in the Wabash River Division.

The Rex (17-12 in the second half) play the Dans again at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Danville and Illinois Valley (16-11) will play at Lafayette. But because the Pistol Shrimp have played two fewer games, they would have a better winning percentage than the Rex and would be the team Danville hosts in the playoff game on Sunday.

If the Rex win Saturday and Illinois Valley loses, it would be the Rex playing Danville — for the fourth time in three days — on Sunday.

Those circumstances are a little weird, but a lot less weird than what occurred in the second inning of Friday's second game at Bob Warn Field.

The Dans, who dominated the Wabash River Division all summer, had nothing to gain on Friday and were making sure their best pitchers were available for Sunday. So third baseman Carlos Vasquez took the mound in the bottom of the sixth inning, after starter Jared Casebier had used up his pitch count, and gave up six runs to give the Rex a 10-run lead. Managers Matt Chavarria of the Rex and Eric Coleman of the Dans had informally agreed prior to the doubleheader — two seven-inning games — to apply the 10-run rule after five frames.

About an hour later, Rex general manager Bruce Rosselli appeared on the field, and a long discussion ensued.

"I got a call from the [Prospect League] commissioner [Dennis Bastien], and he said we'd stopped the game too soon," Rosselli told the Tribune-Star after play resumed. "There's a 10-run rule after seven [innings] in a nine-inning game, but even a seven-inning game has to go six and a half innings."

The Dans helped get the seventh inning over by making three intentional outs — the bottom of the sixth inning was never completed — and the second game resumed after that.

The first game featured two-year Rex star Alec Brunson making the most of perhaps his last games at Bob Warn Field.

Brunson hit a solo homer in the first inning and, after the Dans tied the score in the second on a solo shot by Trey Higgins, a two-run blast in the bottom of the third. Four walks later in the third inning made the score 4-1, and gave the first indication that the Dans might not be all that worried about the outcome.

A two-run homer in the fifth by Aaron Beck made the score 6-1, and Rex starter Kyle Cortner — who was outstanding — ran out of pitches while giving up a run in the top of the sixth. But the Rex got six runs on five hits, a walk and hit batter against Vasquez, and Mason White's two-run double made the score 12-2.

The bottom of the first inning of the second game started with three walks, a wild pitch and an error, then a two-run single by Brandon Boxer. The Rex had four runs before an out was recorded, and stole five bases with the Dans not trying to retire them with a throw on any of the five attempts.

Lane Miller pitched a complete game with no walks and 13 strikeouts for the Rex, while Brunson had an RBI single and Parks Bouck a two-run double in the bottom of the sixth. Danville didn't get its two runs until the seventh.

First game (6 innings)

DANVILLE DANS (AB-R-H-RBI) — Digiorno ss 3-0-0-0, Vinson 1b-2b 2-1-1-0, Vasquez 3b-p 2-0-0-0, Portera 2b-3b 3-0-1-0, Higgins cf 3-1-2-2, Gray c 3-0-1-0, Vitale lf 3-0-0-0, Whiting rf 2-0-0-0, Casebier p 2-0-0-0, Tomkins 1b 0-0-0-0. Totals 23-2-5-2.

REX (AB-R-H-RBI) — Bouck ss 4-1-0-0, Brunson 3b 4-2-3-3, Hicks lf 2-2-1-1, Miller rf 3-0-0-1, Boxer dh 2-2-1-0, Beck cf 3-2-2-3, Smith c 2-1-1-2, White 1b 4-0-1-2, Putnam 2b 3-2-2-0. Totals 27-12-11-12.

Danville=010=001=—=2

Rex=103=026=—=12

Two out when 10-run lead achieved.

DP — DD 1. LOB — DD 5, Rex 6. 2B — Gray, Portera, Boxer, White. HR — Brunson 2, Higgins, Beck. SF — Miller.

Danville=IP=H=R=ER=BB=SO

Casebier (L)=5=6=6=6=5=4

Vasquez=0.2=5=6=6=1=0

Rex=IP=H=R=ER=BB=SO

Cortner (W)=5.2=5=2=2=2=7

Cottrell (Sv)=0.1=0=0=0=0=1

HBP — by Casebier (Smith), by Vasquez (Bouck). PB — Gray. T — 2:01.

Second game boxscore unavailable.

Next — The Rex (17-12 second half) play at Danville (19-7) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.