Quick-fire combat favors No. 1 Cats

Matthew Busch/The Herald
Jasper shortstop Craig Shepherd, left, pumped his fist after umpire Greg Simmons signaled an out during Jasper’s game against Southridge on Friday at Ruxer Field. The Class 3A No. 1 Wildcats blanked the Raiders 3-0 behind a one-hitter from senior pitcher Nick Gobert. For a gallery of photos, click here.

By JOHN PATISHNOCK
Herald Sports Writer

JASPER — For most of the night, Jasper and Southridge played baseball about as well as imaginable for any level.

Moore

Pitchers worked quickly, players executed sacrifice bunts and the game moved at a swift pace. It’d been difficult to imagine the rivalry matchup featured a first-time pairing for Class 3A No. 1 Jasper, which thwarted Southridge 3-0 on Friday night at Ruxer Field in a contest that lasted only 74 minutes.

“Cal called a hell of a game,” Jasper starter Nick Gobert said of his catcher, Cal Krueger. “I was in rhythm the whole time. He threw out a guy — that was big.”

Jasper coach Terry Gobert can choose between three catchers who are also capable of playing other positions, something he can’t remember having previously in his coaching career. “We’re just trying to look at all our options,” he said in describing the new-look battery of Nick Gobert and Cal Krueger, which resulted in Gobert (4-0) firing a one-hitter and striking out nine as only one Raider advanced to second base the entire game. Krueger helped as he threw out a runner attempting to steal second to end the sixth inning, when Jasper (17-2) led just 1-0.

“He called a heck of a game, he mixed it up well; I didn’t have to shake him off too many times, it was nice,” Nick said. “Scott’s done great too — both of them are doing good — but it’s nice that you can agree with a catcher and you don’t have to worry about shaking him off.

“He gave me the ball back and we just kept going in rhythm. We mixed it up well, we kept them off-balance.”

“Nick Gobert did a really nice job of changing speeds and throwing strikes, he had them off-balance,” Terry said. “I thought him and Krueger — that’s the first time they’ve worked together — did a really nice job for a senior and a freshman out there.”

Nick Gobert was referencing Scott Stallwood, the third member of the catching trifecta, with Gobert himself being the other choice. Stallwood played second base as one of three players to collect a hit off Luke Stetter (2-3), a sophomore who allowed just five hits in tossing a complete game. All five hits were singles, as sophomore outfielder Ben Moore finished 3-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI.

Gobert singled in the sixth and later scored off an Austin Alles sacrifice fly, and Moore scored earlier in the frame off a wild pitch. Krueger tallied Jasper’s other run in the third. He drew a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Craig Shepherd, advanced to third on a throwing error and scored on an RBI single by Moore, a left-handed batter who succeeded against Stetter, a left-handed thrower.


“I just tried to see the ball as quickly as I could out of his hand and he was mixing his pitches pretty well, so I just tried to identify that as fast as I could,” Moore said.

“I just tried to hit the ball where it’s pitched, and if he gives me that outside pitch there, then I’m going to try to take it the other way.”

“For a lefty against a lefty, he had good at-bats,” Terry Gobert added.

Andy Knust also laid down a sacrifice for Jasper, while Southridge executed late in the contest as the Raiders gave themselves a chance to tie the game. Aaron Heichelbech led off the sixth by reaching on an error and moved to second as Guadalupe Perez registered a sac bunt. But Heichelbech was tagged out trying to advance to third on a ground ball after Shepherd fielded the ball at shortstop and fired to Alles at third. Connor Craig, who reached on the fielder’s choice, was thrown out at second by Krueger to end the threat.

Gobert retired the first 10 batters and struck out his first five hitters of the game. In addition to his fastball and curve, Gobert said he successfully used his changeup for the first time this season. Eight of his nine strikeouts came swinging as the Raiders never appeared comfortable at the plate, though they had scored 41 runs in winning five of six games coming into Friday.

“We were ready to compete,” Southridge coach Brad Wibbeler said. “Gobert just did a heck of a job throwing strikes and kept us off-balance with his off-speed stuff, and we just had way too many strikeouts.”

Stetter

Stetter provided Southridge’s only hit, a fourth-inning single, while needing just 71 pitches against a Jasper team that had been averaging nearly eight runs a game the previous six contests.

“Very gutsy,” Wibbeler said of Stetter’s outing. “He went out there and he just pitched his tail off and went after guys. He wasn’t scared, he wasn’t intimidated at all, he threw strikes in the zone. ... He wasn’t scared to throw different pitches in different situations.”

Stetter struck out a pair and also benefitted from two double plays. Like his counterpart, he worked fast, prompting Terry Gobert to say, “Stetter, for them, did a really nice job. I love kids that work fast, even when it’s going against me, and I thought he did a nice job. I really did.”

Jasper will play Monday at Gibson Southern. Southridge, meanwhile, travels to Loogootee today for a makeup game.

Afterward, as Nick Gobert was leading a handful of Wildcats in maintaining the pitching mound, Terry remarked that his son was taking care of the part of the field that Nick believes he owns.

Friday night, he sure did.

“These are the games you want to win,” Nick said. “It’s better than going somewhere and beating a bad team 15-5.

“Anybody that comes in here wants to beat us — let’s be honest, people always want to beat Jasper — and it’s nice to beat a team that really has a lot of fire and a lot of energy and really wants to stick it to you and you don’t let it happen.”

Contact John Patishnock at jpatishnock@dcherald.com.




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