Jasper captures sixth state championshipJune 22, 2021
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
INDIANAPOLIS — Tuesday evening’s 4A State Championship contest began in strong fashion for Jasper (31-2). Wildcats senior pitcher Grant Stratton induced a Fishers double play during the second at-bat of the game. A double play is known as a pitcher’s best friend, and Jasper emerged unscathed in the top half of the first inning.
Jasper’s ability to respond to adversity has set the tone for a memorable postseason run. The Cats closed the book on a historic season with a 3-1 victory over the Tigers in the championship.
“That ground ball changed the whole game,” Stratton said. “I was like, ‘You know what? I’ve got this. I’m ready to go.’ From there on, it was out after out for me.”
Batting as the home team on the scoreboard, the Cats recorded two outs before junior Connor Foley worked a walk. The threat ended there, and the game remained scoreless as the teams entered the top of the second inning.
Stratton established a comfortable pace on the mound and alternated his speeds during two consecutive strikeouts. Once again, Fishers was down to two outs without any runners on base. A third strikeout created a collective Jasper roar along the third-base side.
“I felt it almost every inning when we came off the field,” Stratton said. “They were roaring out here. I was just pumped up with them.”
The 1-2-3 inning manufactured some early momentum for the Cats in the bottom of the second. Jasper senior Ross Peter led off the frame with a sky-high double off the wall in left-center field. The ball looked like it had a chance to sail over the fence, but Peter remained enthused after earning the stand-up two-bagger.
Jasper did not scratch across any runs after tallying its first hit of the game. Stratton stifled the Tigers’ bats in the top of the third inning. He did not permit Fishers to reach base, and the game remained scoreless in the middle of the third.
Cats senior Caleb Burger collected a leadoff walk after facing a two-strike count. Burger advanced to second base after Jasper junior Kody Morton executed a textbook sacrifice bunt. Then, Jasper senior Eli Hopf reached base on a Fishers infield error.
The error proved to be a boon for Jasper, as Burger raced home and slid safely across the dish for the Cats’ first run of the game. Foley launched a double into left-center field, and Jasper had two runners in scoring position with just one out. After the Cats recorded their second out, Peter sliced another double into a deep corner of left field.
“They just kept grinding,” Cats head coach Terry Gobert said. “No one has ever quit, but they kept believing and hammering away. They were having fun. That’s why you coach.”
The key hit brought home two additional runs, and the revitalized Cats entered the top of the fourth with newfound energy. With Tigers at the corners, Jasper racked up another double play to end the one-out threat.
The Cats did not score in the bottom of the fourth. Fishers loaded the bases and scored its first run on a sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth. Stratton took a deep breath, settled in and racked up another strikeout to limit the damage.
The score remained at 3-1 as the squads moved to the top of the sixth inning. Stratton showed no signs of fatigue and tossed another scoreless frame.
Another inning came and went without a Jasper run, but Stratton recorded a quick out in the top of the seventh. Two outs later, the Cats celebrated together for the final time.
Stratton polished off his complete game, and Jasper claimed its sixth state title in program history.
“To have this many people here, I can’t even put it into words,” Gobert said. “It’s good to be the coach of Jasper.”
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