Cats defeat Pats in defensive battleApril 16, 2019
By JONATHAN SAXON
LINCOLN CITY — If you blinked, chances are you could have missed a good one yesterday as the Jasper baseball team went over to Spencer County to take on Heritage Hills. Both teams demonstrated sound defenses as they quickly cleared the innings but the Wildcats were able to capitalize on a couple of errors and timely hits which allowed them to beat the Patriots Monday evening.
Jasper head coach Terry Gobert thought the few mistakes the team did make in the field were cleaned up with superb fielding awareness when it came to knowing where to go with their throws to close out innings. They thought the best way to win would be to keep the Patriots (8-3) off the bags and Gobert was pleased with how the team accomplished their goal.
“I thought we had two mistakes in the infield and erased them with double plays, that’s what you have to do” he said. “The key was we didn’t put extra guys on base, and when we did we seemed to get the double play or get the next pitch.”
The Wildcats’ lineup suffered two quick outs at the top of the first inning as senior shortstop Josh Weidenbenner popped out to third base and senior second baseman Grant Ahlbrand hit into a force out play at first. However senior pitcher Trevor Krapf was able to draw a walk off Patriots senior starter Noah Chesnut. Then a wild pitch during Andrew Wallace’s at-bat allowed senior pinch runner Nathan Schmitt to advance on second base. The sophomore first baseman was then able to hit a single, which drove in Schmitt and gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
What followed was a trilogy of three-up, three-down at-bats as both teams struggled to make it past second base going into the third inning, but the Wildcats’ (9-1) fortunes would soon change for the better. It started with senior designated hitter Jade Jochum reaching first on a single, then advancing to second when Weidenbenner hit into a play at first. Then Krapf stepped to the plate following a strikeout from Ahlbrand and clocked a base hit to right field that allowed Jochum to circle around and come home for the 2-0 lead.
That would be it for the game’s scoring, but both teams had their moments of sharp defensive playmaking leading up to the game’s conclusion.
After plunking junior designated hitter Mark Doyle in the bottom of the third, the Wildcats were able to bounce back with one of their double plays as Weidenbenner fielded a grounder from senior right fielder Blake Bryant and turned the out at second on the way to first. The Patriots would collect their own double play in the top of the fifth inning as junior third baseman Murray Becher caught a popped up bunt attempt by Ahlbrand, then quickly turned and tagged out a scrambling Jochum who was halfway down the third base line looking to score.
Most of the rest of the plays came down to sharp throws off ground balls or pop-flys hit out to various points across the field. Most of the innings saw less than five batters as both teams were quick to get their outs in a game that last less than ninety minutes. In the end, those early hits were all the difference in a game where both teams were exercising stingy glovework.
Krapf pitched all seven innings and finished the game with two hits, one walk, and two strikeouts. He also drove in a run, while Wallace brought in another.
“(The) Patriots are a pretty good ball club,” said Krapf. “I’m just glad with my pitching performance and (having) the defense behind me helped me out.”
Chesnut also had a complete game and finished with six hits, two earned runs, two walks, and five strikeouts. Senior first baseman Grahm Turner and junior shortstop Simon Scherry each had a hit for the Patriots.
“It was a good game,” said Chesnut. “I thought I pitched pretty well, the team did really good. Struggled at the plate, but I know for sure we’re going to bounce back and keep on trucking.”
Patriots coach Andy Fischer thought his team played well, even with the few mistakes early that led to runs. The main difference for him came down to their hits going a little further to either side of the Wildcats’ gloves which could have turned some of the defensive plays into base hits. But he chose to look at that factor as an opportunity to get better
“You can learn a lot from these type of games,” Fischer said. “Baseball is a game of inches; you square up that ball a millimeter or two one way or the other and it’s a hit in the hole. It was just one of those nights we didn’t find the holes, but we did put the ball in play. Hopefully we learn from this came and continue to get better.”
For his part, Gobert hopes that the Wildcats use this game as a template for how they’re supposed to cover the field moving forward. For them the game was simple on Monday night and Gobert would like for it to stay that way.
“You throw strikes, work quick, make routine plays, your pitchers save about 25 pitches,” said Gobert. “ I thought our kids were locked in and to get a shut out is always nice.”
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