Jasper recognizes program’s posterityApril 16, 2021
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
JASPER — Moments before Jasper (6-1) faced off against New Albany at Ruxer Field on Friday evening, the local baseball community celebrated in harmony. The Wildcats welcomed their program’s fountain of youth in a special pregame ceremony.
Jasper ultimately fell in a 7-1 contest, but Cats head coach Terry Gobert recognized Youth Night’s impact on the players and fans.
“It’s been a great thing over the years,” Gobert said. “We asked our kids last night, ‘How many of you were here on Jasper Youth Night a few years ago?’ ” We said, ‘Be that kid that you looked up to. Talk to these kids. Pat them on the head. Thank them for coming.’ ”
In addition to the Youth Night festivities, Gobert and the Jasper coaching staff recognized New Albany head coach Chris McIntyre for his induction into the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame. The mutual respect between competitors was quite evident in that moment — Jasper’s coaches wore vivacious smiles as they presented McIntyre with an honorary plaque.
“He’s one of the nicest people I know,” Gobert said. “He doesn’t like attention. He doesn’t like to be recognized. I really appreciate the warm response of our fans. They beat us again, but I respect him. It’s easier to lose to people who do it right. He does it right.”
Neither team scored in the first inning, but the Cats scratched in the bottom of the second. Jasper senior Jobe Luebbehusen ripped a sharp double off New Albany junior pitcher Tucker Biven. Junior Chris Hedinger knocked him in with an RBI single, and the Cats held the early 1-0 advantage against the Bulldogs.
Biven helped himself with a two-run home run in the top of the third inning. The Cats trailed 4-1 at the end of the top half.
The teams battled to a stalemate in the middle innings. Scoring threats were thwarted across the board. Jasper executed putout opportunities and did not commit any errors in the game.
New Albany tacked on three additional insurance runs in the seventh inning. Luebbehusen, Hedinger and senior Grant Stratton accounted for the Cats’ three hits in the contest. Biven went 2-for-3 at the plate and finished his complete game with three hits, two walks and nine strikeouts.
“This is the kind of game you need to play,” Gobert said. “Our goal isn’t to go undefeated — it’s to get better. That’s the kind of guy you’ve got to beat if you want to keep advancing in the tournament.”
Indeed, Friday’s contest offered several valuable learning experiences for the Cats. Gobert recognized New Albany as a formidable opponent.
“In defense of the kids, they’ve not seen much like this,” he said. “I’m fine with it if you’re trying to get better. You’ve got to learn from a game like this. You’ll learn a hell of a lot more from a game like this than you will by beating somebody that walks you 13, 14 times.”
Jasper returns for a 6:30 p.m. game on Monday at Heritage Hills.
“We always enjoy playing Heritage Hills,” Gobert said. “We were in the same class there for a while. We’ve just got to get better every time out.”
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