Jun. 7—Braden Scott made an impressive debut with the Rex on Sunday in the first game of a Prospect League baseball doubleheader at Bob Warn Field, but the home team was unable to take advantage of three homers and managed just a split with the Illinois Valley Pistol Shrimp.
Scott, a Shakamak graduate who just recently completed his college career as a key bullpen operative at Indiana, breezed through a 3-0 win in just 89 minutes in the first of the seven-inning games, but the Pistol Shrimp rallied in the sixth inning for a 4-3 victory in the nightcap.
The Rex had pulled themselves up to the .500 mark after an 0-3 start to the season in the opener, but are 5-6 heading into a game Tuesday night at Danville.
“We’ve been playing better,” manager A.J. Reed said between games Sunday. “We’re hitting the ball, the pitchers are throwing strikes and the defense is playing better. That’s all three aspects right there.”
The Rex will also be getting players back from some of its college teams soon, and Scott was one of the first of those Sunday. He did not disappoint.
Although he spent most of his recent college career in the bullpen, Scott “said he wanted to start, and we need starters,” Reed said, “so he got to throw the rock as much as he could.”
That proved to be all seven innings although, because he allowed just two baserunners and walked no one, he didn’t need to throw a lot of pitches.
The 91 he threw Sunday was the most he’d thrown “in about three years,” he said after the game. “I feel really good — although I imagine tomorrow morning I’ll be scraping to get out of bed.”
The Pistol Shrimp also had a needed pitching performance in that game, although it didn’t start out that way. Jason Shanner walked three batters in the bottom of the first, then gave up a two-run single to Nate Wolf. But he went on to pitch a complete game too, for a team whose season pitching statistics are pretty bad. The only other Rex run came in the bottom of the sixth, when Jack Leverenz hustled a soft line drive to right into a double and scored on a single by Clay Wisner.
Scott, however, struck out nine and had one-two-three innings six times. The only Illinois Valley baserunners came in the top of the fourth on singles by Blake Atkins and Damen Castillo, but Scott got a weak ground ball and a strikeout to halt the visitors’ only threat.
“I can’t complain,” the pitcher said. “I got through the game the best I could.”
“He did a great job,” Reed said. “We couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Scott is taking advantage of a new Prospect League rule that allows college seniors who have exhausted their eligibility to play.
“If I could sign [a professional contract] with somebody out of here, that would be great,” he said. “I’m going to keep trying to play as long as I can.”
Rex starter Benji Downs gave up just four hits in five innings in the second game, but three of those were by the first three hitters he faced and the Pistol Shrimp had a quick 2-0 lead.
Rob Weissheier, Wolf and Alex Brunson all hit solo homers in the first, second and fourth innings to put the Rex ahead 3-2, but the visitors got four walks and an RBI single to take their sixth-inning lead. The Rex loaded the bases in the sixth and had the tying run aboard in the seventh, but ended both innings by grounding into double plays.
ILLINOIS VALLEY (AB-R-H-RBI) — Atkins 2b 3-0-1-0, Clifford ss 3-0-0-0, Castillo 1b 3-0-1-0, Delgado c 3-0-0-0, Maynard 3b 3-0-0-0, Resetich cf 2-0-0-0, McDowell dh 2-0-0-0, Cameron rf 2-0-0-0, Booker lf 2-0-0-0. Totals 23-0-2-0.
REX (AB-R-H-RBI) — Atkinson cf 3-0-0-0, Putnam ss 2-1-0-0, Weissheier 1b 2-1-0-0, Brunson lf 2-0-0-0, Wolf dh 3-0-1-2, Leverenz rf 3-1-1-0, Wisner 2b 3-0-1-1, Terry c 3-0-2-0, Becker 3b 2-0-0-0. Totals 23-3-5-3.
LOB — IV 2, Rex 6. 2B — Leverenz.
WP — Shanner 3. T — 1:29.
Next — The Rex (5-6 after Sunday’s second game) play Tuesday at Danville. Illinois Valley (3-8) plays Tuesday at Lafayette.