“Faith and Family Day” was the theme of Rex Sunday at Bob Warn Field, with a chance to match the visiting Lafayette Aviators for first place in the Wabash River division of the Prospect League.
That didn’t happen, with the Rex relinquishing a 4-1 lead to lose 6-5 in the first game of seven innings, then losing 3-1 in the last drink. Lafayette is now 12-4, leading the Rex and Danville Dans by four games in the division standings.
Are the Aviators the team to beat in the division, asked manager AJ Reed.
“I’d like to think we are,” replied Reed, who still has a lot of faith. “We have probably one of the best attacks in the league. These guys [the Aviators] are a great team; we only saw Danville once, but Illinois Valley also played some good games against us.
The Rex looked like they were about to go through Sunday’s opener. Kaleb Hannahs netted a brace with a strikeout late in the first and Rob Weissheier continued his hot streak with an opposing home run just over the outstretched glove of Lafayette outfielder Oscar Ponce for a 2-0 lead.
It became a 3-0 lead late in the second when Kody Putnam scored a single and scored on a double from Alec Atkinson. Rex starter Benji Downs came out of a jam with a single goal-laden strikeout early in the third with just one run allowed, and the Rex tied that in the bottom of the fourth when Atkinson walked in, stole second and third and scored on Le terrien de Weissheier.
But Downs walked the first two hitters on eight pitches that weren’t near the plate to start the start of the fifth, and the visitors were in business.
“He pitched well for us. He’s just been through a bit of a rough patch, ”Reed said when asked about Downs later, and three subsequent hits gave Lafayette a 5-4 lead.
Another walks to start the sixth inning – to the same head hitter, Matthew Ervolina – led to another Lafayette reliever, Joey Hurth, and now the Rex was facing a two-point deficit.
“Any walk hurts,” Reed said. “You throw strikes, you win games.”
The Rex rallied in the bottom of the seventh when Nate Wolf – a perfect match, 2-2 with a pair of walks – walked in and Kyle Harbison called with a double. A point scored on the field of Jack Leverenz, but the game ended with the equalizer at 90 feet.
The Rex only managed three hits against starter Kenny Serwa in Game 2, but two of them – a triple from Leverenz and a single RBI from Dylan Janke – produced a run that reduced the lead by Lafayette at 3-1 at the end of the fifth. . But after a batter put the runners first and second without any outs, Serwa got two strikeouts and one on the ground.
Lafayette came close to his goal with Kaleb Honea in the bottom of the seventh and Rex’s same two players struck again, Leverenz and Janke securing back-to-back singles to tie the base with no one to eliminate. Again, however, the Rex failed to rally thanks to a strikeout, popup, and another strikeout.
Both teams are inactive until Wednesday, when the Rex will play at Alton.
LAFAYETTE (AB-RH-RBI) – Ervolina ss 2-2-0-0, Contreras cf 3-1-2-0, Craig 1b 1-1-1-1, Garcia dh 4-1-2-2, Johnson c 4-0-1-2, Snyder 2b 3-0-1-1, Pence rf 3-0-0-0, Mella ph-rf 1-0-0-0, Behling lf 3-0-0-0 , Lang 3b 3-1-1-0. Totals 27-6-8-6.
REX (AB-RH-RBI) – Atkinson 2b 3-1-1-1, Hannahs 3b 3-1-1-0, Weissheier 1b 4-1-1-3, Brunson lf 4-0-0-0, Wolf dh 2-0-2-0, Becker pr 0-1-0-0, Harbison c 4-0-1-0, Leverenz rf 4-0-1-1, Putnam ss 4-1-1-0, Rowan see 1-0-0-0. Totals 29-5-8-5.
Lafayette = 001 = 041 = 0 = – = 6
Rex = 210 = 100 = 1 = – = 5
LOB – Lafayette 8, Rex 9. 2B – Hannahs, Atkinson, Johnson, Harbison. RH – Weissheier. SB – Atkinson 2. SF – Snyder.
Lafayette = IP = H = R = ER = BB = SO
Blacksmith = 4 = 6 = 4 = 4 = 4 = 6
Stover (W) = 2.1 = 2 = 1 = 1 = 2 = 1
Olegao (S) = 0.2 = 0 = 0 = 0 = 0 = 1
Rex = IP = H = R = ER = BB = SO
Bottom (L) = 4 = 7 = 5 = 5 = 4 = 2
Hurth = 2 = 1 = 1 = 1 = 3 = 1
Nitch = 1 = 0 = 0 = 0 = 0 = 2
Downs pitched to 5 batters in the fifth.
WP – Hurth. T – 2:20.
Next – The Rex (8-8) plays Wednesday at Alton. The Aviators (12-4) host Burlington that day.