Dubois County natives enjoying time with Bombers

Photos by Kaiti Sullivan/The Herald
Dubois County Bombers' pitcher Reece Kleinhelter tips his hat to the crowd after closing out an inning during Saturday's 14-4 victory over the Owensboro RiverDawgs at League Stadium in Huntingburg. Kleinhelter is one of four Dubois County natives playing with the Bombers this season as he joins fellow Jasper Wildcat alums Cal Krueger and Adam Hedinger as well as recent Southridge grad Tucker Schank.

By HENDRIX MAGLEY
hmagley@dcherald.com

HUNTINGBURG — You often hear that a strong relationship between a pitcher and catcher is the key to a successful performance on the mound.

As far as chemistry goes, it’s going to be tough to find a duo that works as well together as catcher Adam Hedinger and pitcher Reece Kleinhelter did on Saturday night in a 14-4 win in eight innings for the Dubois County Bombers against the Ohio Valley League division-leading Owensboro RiverDawgs.

Even though the two Jasper Wildcat baseball alums haven’t been paired up since Jasper’s Class 3A state championship appearance against South Bend St. Joseph in June of 2017, it’s safe to say the bond between them has remained strong over time.

“Adam caught me my entire junior and senior year so yeah, we’ve always had good chemistry,” Kleinhelter said.

Hedinger added: “Being able to come back and catch him again was awesome. He did great tonight and it just brought back so many fun memories.”

Hedinger and Kleinhelter are joined by fellow Jasper alum Cal Krueger and recent Southridge grad Tucker Schank as the four Dubois County representatives on the 2019 Bombers roster.

While Hedinger has been a member of the Bombers all season, Schank joined the team shortly before the 4th of July while Krueger and Kleinhelter both made their pitching debuts for the season this past weekend.

Kleinhelter, who will be entering his junior year at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, joined the Bombers after a few injuries left some spots open in their starting pitching rotation.

“After playing summer ball in Myrtle Beach for five and a half weeks, I took a two week break and then I came to (League Stadium) to throw a bullpen session last week,” Kleinhelter said. “Shortly after, (head coach) Travis (LaMar) said they were down on arms and asked if I could pitch. I said yes right away.”

In his season debut on Saturday, he pitched five innings and gave up just six hits and three earned runs while striking out four batters. When judging his performance, Kleinhelter said “It could’ve went a bit better but overall I still thought it was good.”

Hedinger went 1-for-3 with a double on Saturday as every Bomber that had a plate appearance recorded at least one hit. Tyler Van Pelt led the way going 4-for-5 with four RBIs while Austin Duffy and Evan Kahre both drove in multiple runs.

This season, Hedinger is batting .280 with an on-base percentage of .538. While he’s only recorded seven hits in 25 at-bats, he’s struck out just two times this season while drawing eight walks.

Dubois County Bombers' catcher Adam Hedinger makes it safely to first base during Saturday's game against Owensboro. Hedinger, a 2017 Jasper grad, has made an impact for the Bombers this season with both his plate discipline and his ability to work with pitchers behind the plate.

“Obviously, I just want to get better all-around,” said Hedinger, who is currently playing collegiately at Franklin College. “Confidence was the biggest thing I wanted to work on — I just wanted to go out there and have the right attitude each and every game.”

In his Bomber debut on Friday night against Franklin, Krueger pitched three scoreless innings with two strikeouts while giving up just two hits and one walk.

Since joining the team in early July, Schank has been a solid presence in the outfield and has also driven in four runs while at the plate.

One thing that both these current Indiana Hoosier baseball players know is that they’re grateful to be able to play with — and for — some of their best friends.

“You don’t get an opportunity to come back and play together much with guys after high school,” Krueger said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of opportunity to get to play with these guys again.”

Schank added: “During the 4th of July game, I had a lot of friends and family in the stands and it got pretty loud when I got to go in so that was very special for me. I got a little emotional when I got to the plate because I received a pretty big ovation.”

All four players are grateful to be able to spend the summer — or at least the remainder of it — playing with full support from the Bomber faithful.

“Living in Dubois County, you realize that the fans here are awesome,” Hedinger said. “You learn that growing up through high school and even in Little League and stuff like that. The people here are always so supportive and it’s really great to be able to have that fan support behind you.”




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