May 31—Although they had averaged five runs per game in their first three outings this season, the Rex came into their home opener Sunday afternoon batting just .167, 16 hits in 96 at-bats.
Sunday, against an Illinois Valley team that seemed a little low on pitching, the Rex more than doubled that hit total, banging out 17 hits and drawing six walks in a 17-1 victory.
The visiting Pistol Shrimp started their leadoff batter and designated hitter, Justin Rios, on the mound, and by the end of the game they had turned to their third baseman and their knuckleball-throwing left fielder in an attempt to stem the tide. Nothing worked, the Rex scoring in every inning before the run rule kicked in after seven frames.
The Rex aren't fully staffed yet either, but they got four excellent innings from Alex Reinoehl — who has appeared in three of their four games now — plus an inning each from Benji Downs, their opening day starter; newcomer Paul Durell; and designated hitter Kody Putnam.
"It was a blast," Reinoehl said after the game. "I feel like everything came together.
"The first three games, we had a lot of good things happen," the Northview graduate said, "but it's fun to win, and see all the guys do well."
"We got a really good start out of Alex, and that set the tone for the game," said manager A.J. Reed. "We've picked up a couple of temp guys, and we're thankful for them to come in and help us out."
One of those temporary players is South Vermillion and Wabash graduate Canton Terry, who had been on the team less than 36 hours when Sunday's game started and who contributed two singles, a double and four RBI to Sunday's rout.
"I got a call at 7 o'clock yesterday morning," said Terry, who had also played in a temporary role for the Rex in 2019. "I think I just play until the guys in the [college] tournament come back.
"I love it. This is some of the most fun I've had playing baseball."
Reinoehl struck out four in the first two innings, and his teammates gave him two runs in the first — a leadoff walk to Alec Atkinson, a stolen base, an RBI single by Putnam and an RBI double by Rob Weissheier — and another in the second on a double by Terry and a two-out RBI single by Atkinson.
The first two Illinois Valley hits came in the third, but Reinoehl stranded both. And in the bottom of the inning, the Rex broke the game open when a leadoff walk was followed by five consecutive hits. Terry had two RBI in that frame, and the score was 7-0. Reinoehl pitched out of a second-and-third, one-out situation in the fourth, and his teammates kept adding runs.
"No game's easy to win," Reed said afterward, "but we put together good at-bats and played better defense than we had been . . . now we need to get some momentum out of this game."
Terry, who was 1 for 2 in Saturday night's 10-6 loss at Danville, is currently the Rex's leading hitter (4 for 6, .667) and has six RBI, also the best on the team. Although he thought he'd retired when he graduated from college recently, could he earn a spot for the whole summer?
"It would be a shame to officially retired when I'm still swinging it," he said.
"There's always a possibility," Reed said.