Bombers grateful for summer full of camaraderie

Photos by Kaiti Sullivan/The Herald
Dubois County Bombers' Matt Joslin reacts after hitting the ball during Saturday's baseball game at League Stadium in Huntingburg. The Dubois County Bombers were defeated by Hoptown 10-3 as the Hoppers clinched the 2019 Ohio Valley League championship by defeating the Bombers 2-0 in the best-of-three championship series. For more photos from the game, click here.


HUNTINGBURG — Just a little over two and a half months ago, most of the Dubois County Bombers had little to no knowledge about any of their future teammates.

But after spending an entire summer together, when that journey comes to an end it can evoke some emotions. This is how the Bombers felt after falling 10-3 in a decisive game two of the Ohio Valley League championship series against the Hoptown Hoppers on Saturday night in League Stadium in Huntingburg.

“While the end result isn’t obviously exactly what you want, I was proud of the process these guys had in getting there,” said head coach Travis LaMar. “There was a lot of growth and a lot of desire to get better everyday and that’s my biggest takeaway from (this season). I told them to never stop working.”

Tyler Best, who joined the Bombers from the University of Hawaii and Eagle, Idaho, added: “Just all the fun we had together, it’s tough that it ended. We were able to bond with each other in such a short amount of time, it’s special.”

After falling 6-4 to the Hoppers in game one in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, the Bombers were pushed to a must-win situation on Saturday night in the best-of-three series.

Hoptown jumped out to a 3-0 lead through three innings of play thanks to a home run from Jacob Jenkins and they also scored via some defensive mistakes by Dubois County. The Bombers had three total errors on Saturday night.

The Bombers first run of the night came in the bottom of the third inning when Indiana University’s Tyler Van Pelt drove in Chase Hug with a sacrifice fly to trim the lead to 3-1. Dubois County added another run in the bottom of the fourth courtesy of an RBI from the University of Evansville’s Easton Stewart but by that point, Hoptown had expanded their lead to 5-2.

Dubois County once again trimmed it to just a two-run deficit in the bottom of the fifth inning as Austin Peay’s Matt Joslin drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs. However, the Bombers left the bases loaded and that would be the final run scored for Dubois County in the game. Hoptown scored single runs in the sixth and seventh and put up a three-spot in the eighth inning to clinch the Ohio Valley League title.

There were plenty of impressive individual performances for the Bombers this season. Olney Central’s Chase Hug paced the Bombers with 48 base hits, 11 doubles, seven home runs and 38 RBIs. Miami (Ohio)’s Benji Brokemond and University of Tennessee’s Matt Ellis showed their strengths offensively throughout the season as well while Lincoln Memorial’s Patrick Queener, Indiana University’s Alex Franklin and University of Southern Indiana’s Chase Rudy had plenty of impressive pitching performances.

While the statistics and individual growth are obviously important to a team’s success in summer ball, perhaps the biggest key is the relationships the players grow with one another as the season develops.

“Coming into this summer, I didn’t know a single person here but now these guys are my brothers for life,” said Jasper grad and current Franklin catcher Adam Hedinger. “As much as I’ll miss the memories between the lines, it’s all of the little stuff outside the lines I’ll miss more — hanging out in the bullpen, cracking jokes with the guys and hanging out away from the field. It’s really special to be able to have those memories.”

LaMar, who played for the Bombers from 2007-2009, added: “From my playing time here, I still keep in contact with a lot of those guys. I’ve realized that once a Bomber, you’re always a Bomber — it’s kind of like a family here and that’s what I’ve always loved about this community.”

Dubois County Bombers' Easton Stewart hugs his girlfriend, Peyton Roedder of Carmi, after Saturday's baseball game at League Stadium in Huntingburg. For more photos from the game, click here.

This past season was also a big year for LaMar as he had his first full season as the Bombers head coach after serving as an assistant coach and a pitching coach for the past two seasons.

“Early on, I just wanted to develop a relationship with the guys and work on that camaraderie from the get-go,” LaMar said. “My mindset coming in was to just continue to build on what was setup before me. Once this team fully bonded, you could see what they were fully capable of.”

While the Bombers’ regular season may have came to a close on Saturday evening, they aren’t quite done yet as they’ll be competing in the Bluegrass World Series in Louisville beginning this Wednesday as the defending tournament champions.

They’ll face fellow OVL squad Owensboro on Wednesday at 3 p.m. and then face the Louisville Stars, a team made up of former MLB All-Stars including David Ross, Johnny Damon and several others on Friday at 6:30 p.m. They’ll also face the Hattiesburg Black Sox on Saturday at 2 p.m. All games will take place at Louisville’s Slugger Field.

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