Bauer gets save on home field, Reds go to 8-0July 19, 2020
By COREY STOLZENBACH
DUBOIS — It had been a long time, more than a year, in fact, since Reece Bauer last played a baseball game on his home field at Northeast Dubois.
Bauer never got the opportunity to don his cleats for his senior season with the Jeeps, with spring sports being cancelled before official competition ever began.
However, what the COVID-19 pandemic taketh away, Northeast Dubois and the Jasper Reds giveth right back. The Reds (8-0) managed to get a game in on the Dubois field on Sunday, affording the Wabash College signee the opportunity to play on his home field in 2020 after all.
“It was special that (Reds business manager) Bob (Alles) gave us the chance to come up here and play at Dubois,” Bauer said. “And my athletic director/basketball coach Terry Friedman and (Jeeps baseball coach) Luke Woolems put in all the hard work for this to happen today. So, (a) big thank you to all of those guys.”
Bauer got more than just his own day to play one more game on his high school field, he also found himself in a pressure situation that impacted the outcome of the Reds game. The Reds held a 5-2 lead with one out in the top of the ninth, with two men on base for the Stars. One swing of the bat could tie it.
The plan was always to give the ball to Bauer for the final out, but when Kris Weisheit, a 2014 Northeast Dubois grad, ran into trouble on the mound, it forced the hand of Reds manager Bill Alles.
“I think they missed a call at first base there,” Bill said. “I was hoping Kris Weisheit could get the first two outs and then we could bring Reece in for the last one, but once they got that call at first and then the next hit, we were facing right-handers. We felt like we needed to bring the right-hander in to finish off.”
Bauer struck out Kenzie Weisheit, Kris’ brother, for the second out of the ninth. It all came down to Jace Bieker, a 2019 Forest Park grad. A ball got away during the half-inning that allowed the runners to move up to second and third, but Bauer settled in — throwing a ball right down the middle to freeze Bieker for the final out and get himself the save in the 5-2 win.
“(It was) a little bit sadness here leaving the field for the last time, but definitely a special way to go out,” he said.
What he had most missed on his home field was the atmosphere and the fans. Some of his favorite memories on that field came during his sophomore season in 2018 when the Jeeps went 18-6, held one of the top rankings in Class 1A and finished as the sectional runner-up. The 2019 team finished 5-19, but Bauer still had a lot of fun with his friends as a junior.
Bauer also had a couple of singles, and a pitch got a piece of him, as he reached base three times on Sunday, but his day wasn’t perfect. He struck out in the bottom of the fifth and the bottom of the sixth. However, his teammates were there to pick him up.
The Stars gave the Reds a tough time early on Sunday, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the third. Alex Franklin, a right-handed pitcher at Indiana University, gave the Reds a tough time out on the mound. He struck out nine batters through four innings.
Kenton Crews, a Heritage Hills graduate and player for the University of Evansville, took over for Franklin in the bottom of the fifth, with the Stars holding onto a 2-1 lead. Crews issued a walk to IU player and Southridge alumnus Tucker Schank to lead things off, and Schank made the Stars pay following that walk.
He stole second base, and took third on a passed ball. That set the groundwork for Gage Wilson to drive him home from third to tie it, 2-2. Jasper took the lead after Northeast Dubois junior Bryce Merkel committed an error with a high throw from shortstop to first base, scoring Wilson from second.
Former Wildcat Noah Luebbehusen was credited with an RBI fielder’s choice to bring in Southridge senior Chase Taylor. Three runs helped do the trick for the Reds in the bottom of the fifth on Sunday, just as it did in the bottom of the sixth on July 15 against the Owensboro Bombers. Jasper scored one more run on Sunday in the bottom of the sixth when Taylor’s RBI sacrifice fly brought in Jasper grad Phillip Noblitt.
“We just decided we were going to start using our speed,” Bill said. “We felt we could take advantage of them on that, and we did, and Tucker led the way there; and we just had some timely hitting that inning, and that made the difference.”
Carter Stamm, a 2020 Jasper grad, moved to 3-0 by getting the win in relief of 2020 Southridge grad Weston Allen. Crews took the loss in relief of Franklin.
The Stars were actually an impromptu opponent for the Reds, who were originally supposed to play the Louisville Cubs in a doubleheader Sunday. However, two Cubs were tested for the virus, and even though the results had not been known as of Sunday afternoon, the Cubs reneged, leaving the Reds in need of an opponent.
Bob was able to find a team that comprised a portion of players who have played at local schools. Crews, Franklin and his IU teammate, Tyler Van Pelt, have all turned out for the Collegiate Sandlot Series at Huntingburg’s League Stadium, with Southridge baseball coach Gene Mattingly supervising.
Mattingly was out of state on Sunday. So Greg Gogel, a 2003 Heritage Hills graduate, served as the coach for the team. The Stars were given old, dark red Reds uniforms for them to wear during the game, and the players wore different hats.
“They had good pitching,” Bob said. “The top of their order was very good. They put a nice team together, and we were lucky to get to play. So, we decided to go with one nine-inning game.”
The Reds are next set to take the field at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday for a nine-inning game against the Terre Haute Bears at Jasper's junior varsity field. Bob is still trying to piece together a Carter Stamm Day at Ruxer Field in Jasper, but next weekend is it for the Reds. What next weekend will look like remains in the works.
He will try to get a team to play if the club he’s eyeing from Lexington, Ky. cannot make it, but added it’s hard to get a game this time of year.
For now, though, Bill doesn’t know anything about the Bears, but that’s largely the nature of semipro baseball. He cited Sunday as an example of not knowing whom the Stars were going to have on their team.
“It’s not going to be who you play, it’s going to be how you play, and we’re playing pretty good right now,” Bill said.
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