Cats earn close victory over Floyd CentralJune 5, 2021
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
JASPER — Jasper (28-2) navigated some tough waters in its 2-1 victory over Floyd Central in Saturday’s matinee at Ruxer Field. The Wildcats tallied just two hits in the game, but senior Grant Stratton and junior Connor Foley contributed in key moments.
Stratton racked up seven strikeouts and issued just two walks in his start on the mound. He limited a robust Highlanders offense to just one run in 6.2 innings of work.
“At first, it was a little bit of adrenaline getting into me,” Stratton said. “I’ve never been here before. No one on this team has. Being the first guy on the mound for our team got me a little nervous, but I think that actually helped me. It helped me throw harder.”
Jasper’s two runs arrived with one mighty swing of Foley’s bat. Jasper needed a two-out knock in the bottom of the third inning, and Foley ripped a screaming line drive down the third-base line for a single.
“We took advantage of our shot,” Cats head coach Terry Gobert said. “We got that one hit that both teams struggled to get. It was enough.”
Equipped with run support, Stratton moved quickly and established his rhythm on the hill. Floyd Central did not muster a run in the first six innings.
“I like to keep the pace going,” Stratton said. “I like to get the ball, get back on the mound and go right away. It helps me stay in rhythm and keeps the batters on their toes. I don’t give them a lot of time out of the box. I can just come right back with a fastball or whatever I’m throwing.”
Stratton allowed his first run of the game in the top of the seventh inning. Foley entered in relief and forced the game’s final groundout.
“He did his job,” Gobert said. “You don’t have to strike guys out. You just have to get them to put it in play. That last out is never easy, especially in high school baseball. He found a way to do it.”
Jasper senior Caleb Burger and junior Kody Morton scored both of the Cats’ runs. Burger and Foley recorded Jasper’s two hits. Jasper worked four walks.
Regionals offered a heightened level of intensity, and Gobert recognized Jasper’s fans for their support on their home field.
“We would have had a big crowd on the road,” he said. “We get a good following, and it makes a difference.”
The game wasn’t perfect, but the Cats remained steadfast and finished the job.
“We didn’t play our best,” Gobert said. “We made some mistakes. We didn’t get some bunts down, but we’ve already talked about that. We’ll have to be better if we want to advance, but you also try to get under the lights. We’ve done that.”
Jasper plays Center Grove in the championship at 8 p.m.
“It’s just another game,” Stratton said. “That’s how we’ve got to go into it. If we go into it thinking it’s the biggest game of our lives, we might fall apart. If we go into it thinking that it’s another game and we play well, I think we can do it.”
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