Ahlbrand twirls no-no in run-ruleApril 9, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
JASPER — Jack Ahlbrand dazzled in front of his home fans Friday evening at Ruxer Field. He tossed a mere 52 pitches against county rival Northeast Dubois, earning a no-hitter and the win as the Wildcats (4-0) run-ruled the Jeeps (1-2), 10-0, in the bottom of the fifth inning.
“I didn’t know I was going to do this, but I knew the bats would be live,” Ahlbrand said. “So, I felt pretty confident in our team pulling out the win.”
Ahlbrand fell behind batters at times on Friday, but he retired the first 10 batters he saw, and the only base runner he allowed was a one-out walk to Jeeps junior Bryce Merkel in the top of the fourth. He made sure not to think of that one walk, and he knew his teammates would come through at the plate.
The junior southpaw fanned four, including the last batter he saw in his counterpart, Jeeps senior Logan Lampert, who took the loss, but only one of the 10 runs charged to him was earned.
“I’m happy for Jack — known him since he was born and he’s not the biggest guy out there, but he did a nice job, and happy for all our kids,” Wildcats coach Terry Gobert said. “But any time you throw a no-hitter, you got to enjoy it.”
“I feel like we squared him up and hit some balls hard early, but he seemed to get stronger as the game went on,” Northeast Dubois coach Luke Woolems said.
Ahlbrand worked closely with senior catcher Ross Peter, and Ahlbrand described Peter as having called a “simple” game. Gobert noted that Jasper allows its players to call the game themselves — something that doesn’t always happen in high school.
“We like our catcher to call it because he can see where the batter’s at, what the umpire’s doing, what he’s calling, not calling and also just getting the feel of his pitcher,” Gobert said.
People might remember Ahlbrand’s performance at the end of the day, but his teammates made sure to give him plenty of run support, too. The Jeeps committed six errors on the evening, and the Wildcats cashed in. Jasper junior Kody Morton reached on an error from Merkel in the outfield in the bottom of the first, advancing senior Eli Hopf to first base.
Hopf came around to score on a sacrifice fly by senior Andrew Wallace, giving the Wildcats the lead, but they never looked back. An error from Jeeps junior third baseman Kendrick Thombleson allowed junior Kody Morton and senior Connor Foley to make it 3-0, and it was 4-0 after one.
Ahlbrand had it all working, be it via the strikeout, the groundout, the popup or even a diving catch in right field from junior Chris Hedinger, and Gobert lauded Hedinger for keeping Ahlbrand’s no-no in tact.
Jasper scored all of its runs in the odd-numbered innings — with four in the bottom of the first, two in the bottom of the second and four in the bottom of the fifth to win it. All four of the final runs the Wildcats scored came with two outs, as junior Ben Henke’s two-run single scored Wallace and fellow senior Blake Mann. Hopf double into left field scored senior Grant Stratton, and Henke got the winning run to put the run-rule in effect.
Woolems talked about the choppiness in the schedule the Jeeps have had so far, as this was just their third game of the season. He feels his players need to get some consistency to combat those errors, and he’s hoping they’ll get some of that today at Paoli.
“We hope the weather holds for us, and that’s what we need,” he said. “We need back-to-backs and being able to play on Saturday, and get after it.”
Jasper, meanwhile, will go from having played a county rival on Friday to a couple of conference rivals this upcoming week. The Wildcats are scheduled on Tuesday to host Southern Indiana Athletic Conference rival Evansville Memorial, and then on Thursday, they’ll welcome Evansville Harrison.
“We got to get better plate discipline, that’s a no-brainer,” Gobert said. “We didn’t bunt tonight at all. We’ve been trying to work on our bunting game because all things even, you got to be able to get the bunts down and move runners.”
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