Jeeps break stalemate in extrasApril 15, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
FERDINAND — Thursday’s game became a question of which pitcher would blink first.
Junior Colby Pieper of Northeast Dubois and sophomore Clayton Weisheit of Forest Park were completely locked in in this county rival game. Weisheit tallied 11 strikeouts against the Jeeps (3-2), while Pieper looked at a bases loaded, nobody out situation in the bottom of the sixth, and escaped without allowing anything.
The Rangers (4-3) not scoring in that half-inning helped do them in, as Northeast Dubois capitalized in extra innings in the top of the eighth for the 5-1 win. Senior Cole Tretter got it all started with a leadoff single, then both sophomore Aidan Dodd and junior Bryce Merkel dropped down a pair of bunts. The latter reached on a high throw error from Weisheit, giving the Jeeps the lead, 2-1, as Tretter scored. Weisheit then saw his counterpart, Pieper, line one into the outfield to score Dodd and Merkel. Northeast Dubois would score one more run before it was all said and done.
That was ample run support for Pieper, who worked around a couple of Rangers on base to get the complete game win — finishing with nine strikeouts and no walks.
“I was just preparing for the whole week, ready to come out here and do what I did,” Pieper said.
“Colby’s a good pitcher,” Northeast Dubois coach Luke Woolems said. “He trusts his defense, which says a lot for them, and a big win for them.”
The Jeeps triumphing, however, stuck Weisheit with the loss. He managed to retire 13 straight batters from the last out in the top of the third through the top of the seventh, and he fanned the side in order in the fourth, fifth and seventh frames, but the Rangers couldn’t reward his efforts with any run support past the bottom of the second, or with a win.
“We have to hit the ball better,” Forest Park coach Jarred Howard said. “We have to hit the ball when we have opportunities with guys in scoring position — we need to do a better job. Their pitcher kept us off balance, and he did a good job. And we just did not do a very good job at the plate. Clayton was great. They got up and got big hits when they needed to, and we didn’t get big hits when we needed to.”
Both teams scored one run each in the second inning. Pieper scored the first run of the game on a two-out error in the infield, while Forest Park sophomore Bryson Partenheimer plated an RBI sacrifice fly to score freshman Joel Bueltel, and it was a stalemate until that eighth inning.
Weisheit fell behind some of his batters early, and the Jeeps loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the third, but he got out of it. However, starting for the next four innings, the sophomore right hander shut down Northeast Dubois, as he started getting ahead of his batters by throwing first-pitch strikes.
“I don’t know what kind of change he and (pitching coach Joe Keusch) made, but he worked ahead, and he started throwing his breaking ball for a strike — and that’s what the difference was,” Howard said.
“Clayton pitched an unbelievable game, and he really got stronger in the fifth, sixth and seventh — and we had to make an adjustment at the plate,” Woolems said.
Therefore, the Jeeps turned to bunting the ball. Woolems told the Herald that it’s always something they’ve worked on, but it becomes dangerous for them when they have speed that goes along with it.
Howard said Weisheit wanted to finish things — and that he deserved to do so.
“He did a great job,” he said. “I’m real proud of Clayton.”
Northeast Dubois and Forest Park have been treading in opposite directions recently. The Jeeps began the season at 1-2, but have pieced together a modest two-game winning streak. Woolems noted that this win was a big morale booster for his players, and a big deal with the way Forest Park’s players play the game, and the job that Howard does as a coach.
Forest Park, meanwhile, has now lost three out of its last four games after the beginning the season 3-0. Howard said his players aren’t having a good approach and are taking too many strikes, while their baserunning hasn’t been very good. He told of some of his players being out hurt, and that the rest of them will have to overcome that.
The Rangers will seek to avoid falling to .500 on Saturday at Evansville Memorial.
“We’ve been working on the same thing for the last week,” Howard said. “We’ve got to put the ball in play with runners in scoring position — we practice it, we do live situations almost every day. So, we’ve got to do a better job of that, and until we can figure who’s going to hit the ball in our lineup, then it’s going to be tough for us to win ballgames.”
Northeast Dubois, meanwhile, is set to get right back at it Friday at home against North Daviess.
“(Senior) Logan Lampert’s going to get the ball,” Woolems said. “It’s Friday night on the Hill, we hope to have a big crowd and that should help.”
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