Jasper's balanced attack leads to rout of Rebels

Photos by Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Jasper’s Eric Nordhoff high-fived Johnny Verkamp, left, and Trevor Krapf after Nordhoff’s fourth-inning run against South Spencer in Jasper on Wednesday. The Wildcats defeated the Rebels 13-0 in five innings and have now won back-to-back games in five innings after their 11-1 defeat of conference foe on Boonville on Tuesday. For more photos from the game, click here.


JASPER — The keyword for the Jasper baseball team last night was efficient.

Senior starter Justin Persohn pitched a one-hit game, the Wildcat batters were able to get 13 runs out of seven hits, and Jasper was able to close the game against the South Spencer Rebels in five innings as they posted a 13-0 shutout victory at Ruxer Field on Wednesday evening.

Jasper coach Terry Gobert had worried about his team’s preparation and approach to the game during the course of the season, but he likes how the players have turned things around in their last two games, which have been dominant affairs and helped the team bounce back from a two-game skid.

“I will give them credit. We’ve been struggling,” he said. “Our approach was better last night (against Boonville). It was okay tonight. Hopefully it’s a sign that we’re going to do it everyday.”

There wasn’t much action to speak of in the first inning, as both teams went through the top of their lineups without consequence. But Jasper (16-9) was able to hop onto the scoreboard against South Spencer (3-19) in the second inning.

First, sophomore third baseman Carter Stamm was able to draw a walk off of Rebels junior starter Andrew Hagan. Then junior right fielder Jacob Ahlbrand hit a single which drove in Stamm and gave Jasper an early 1-0 lead.

The Wildcats would increase the heat in the third inning, as a six-run outing helped them solidify control of the game. Junior second baseman Grant Ahlbrand got things started when he drew a walk off Hagan to take first base. Junior first baseman Trevor Krapf was plugged by Hagan, and senior left fielder Noah Luebbehusen connected on a single to drive in Ahlbrand.

Senior designated hitter Eric Nordhoff hit a single which looked like it would lead into a force out play at third base against Krapf, but a catcher’s interference call from the home plate umpire spared Krapf and loaded the bases. Stamm would draw a second walk to bring in Krapf for Jasper’s third run.

Then senior center fielder Jacob Lents hit a booming single to bring in Luebbehusen and Nordhoff for the 5-0 lead. Senior catcher Austin Simmers and junior shortstop Josh Weidenbenner both hit sacrifice hits as the bottom of the third drew to a close, which scored Stamm and Lents, and gave the Wildcats a comfortable seven-run lead.

Jasper continued the scoring onslaught in the fourth inning. Krapf signalled the beginning of the scoring activities with a leadoff double. After reaching third base on a throwing error, Krapf was able to cross home plate after another single from Nordhoff. Lents then connected on a double to drive in Nordhoff for his third RBI of the game.

“After the Mater Dei game, we kind of all just said it’s time to stop screwing around,” said Lents about the team’s business-like approaches to the plate during their last few games. “We started hitting the ball, putting guys on, and scoring some runs.”

Jasper’s Jacob Lents, left, and Jacob Ahlbrand went for a ball in the third inning as Jasper faced South Spencer in Jasper on Wednesday. Lents said one of the biggest keys to Jasper bouncing back in these last two games is that Cats have quit messing around and are playing some of the most focused ball they have all season. For more photos from the game, click here.

After senior pinch hitter Quinton Gordon drew a walk to load up the bases, Weidenbenner struck again with a single to score Stamm. Simmers was hit by pitch, which marched home Lents, and senior pinch hitter Johnny Verkamp clocked a double into a gap in the outfield to drive in Gordon and Weidenbenner for Jasper’s last two runs. The Wildcats were able to get three quick outs against South Spencer in the top of the fifth to seal the win.

Persohn finished with five strikeouts and only allowed one hit and one walk in his five inning stand from the mound. He maintained good poise and control over the Rebels’ batting line up, and didn’t allow South Spencer any room to breathe and get their offense going.

“I got ahead of hitters, and that always helps,” said Persohn. “You rely on your defense to make plays and they did that here tonight. It’s fun to get out in five.”

Lents went two-for-three hitting with three RBIs. Weidenbenner, Simmers, and Verkamp each knocked in two runs. Luebbehusen, Stamm, Nordhoff, and Jacob Ahlbrand each had an RBI.

Hagan allowed three hits, seven runs, and four walks during his three innings on the mound. Sophomore reliever Wil Madison allowed four hits, six runs, and two walks during his inning of action. He also struck out two batters. Sophomore right fielder Brenden Moore collected the Rebels lone hit in the third inning.

With sectional play just around the corner, Gobert is encouraged by the latest scoring displays coming from his batting order. He wants that, along with the clean fielding (Jasper finished with zero errors), to continue as the team learns to stop trying to make everything happen at once and trust their teammates to come in behind them and make plays. He believes good things happen for Jasper when the players buy in to that approach toward baseball.

“I just think we need to treat every at-bat with respect,” he said. “We just want the guys to not throw away any at-bats. Just try to get next guy up, and let him do his job. We want them to pass it on to the next guy.”

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