Jasper run-rules Mount Vernon, clinches state berthJune 12, 2021
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
JASPER — Jasper (30-2) senior Grant Stratton takes pride in sprinting to the outfield. It might seem like a peculiar activity for a winning pitcher to enjoy, but the sprint signifies another figurative feather in the Wildcats’ caps.
Because the Wildcats rolled past Mount Vernon (Fortville) in a lopsided 4A Semi-State 4 contest, Stratton and his teammates basked in the chance to bolt to the wall after their 17-2 run-rule.
“Every time we’ve won one of these tournament games, we’ll run out here,” Stratton said. “I’ll pretend to rob a ball. We all jump and get hyped up. That’s our way of celebrating. I’ll run out here, lead it and rob it. Everyone else just jumps behind us and gets hyped up.”
The Cats needed to overcome adversity before they leapt in unison. Mount Vernon struck for two runs in the top of the first inning. Jasper’s four runs in the bottom of the first frame helped Stratton hunker down on the mound.
“Once we got the lead, I was sort of relieved out there to know I could pitch with a lead,” he said. “I knew I had runs to give if I were to give up runs, but I think just having those runs right away after we got back up helped a lot.”
Jasper pounced on Mount Vernon in the bottom of the second inning. The Cats turned the order over in a staggering 11-run frame. Although Jasper fell behind early, the second inning allowed the Cats to continue their streak of 17 unanswered runs.
“That second inning just busted it open,” Jasper head coach Terry Gobert said. “That’s the danger of being the home team in a tournament. Sometimes, it’s kind of fun to be the visitors and just get something going. We’ll talk about it, but they’re kids. That’s going to happen. To bounce back like that was good.”
The onslaught continued in the third and fourth innings. Jasper senior Eli Hopf ripped an RBI triple to left field in the bottom of the third frame. After fellow senior Ross Peter smacked a double into center field in the fourth, the Cats earned the 15-run advantage.
Stratton silenced the Marauders' bats in the late innings. He struck out four batters and issued just one walk in five innings of work.
“I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else,” Stratton said. “I know that.”
Peter and Jasper senior Jobe Luebbehusen knocked in four runs apiece for the Cats. As the student-athletes hoisted the trophy in the outfield, Gobert reflected on the campaign.
“Losing a season last year makes you take a deep breath, step back a little bit and maybe appreciate it even more,” he said.
Jasper seeks its sixth state title against Fishers on June 22 in Indianapolis.
“You don’t get to Victory Field without playing well as a team,” Gobert said. “For these guys to do it, that was a tough path.”
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