More from Moore lessens Raider bats

Rachel Mummey/The Herald
Jasper’s Ben Moore, center background, and Craig Shepherd gathered with teammates between innings during Friday night’s collision of county and sectional rivals at League Stadium in Huntingburg. With Moore pitching the first five innings then handing off to Cal Krueger and Spencer Otto to finish the game, the Class 3A No. 4 Wildcats subdued Southridge 6-1. For a gallery of photos, click here.

Herald Sports Writer

HUNTINGBURG — Jasper’s Ben Moore will be the first to tell you his road to an undefeated pitching record hasn’t been against the most stalwart of lineups.

Before the Jasper baseball team’s skirmish against Southridge in Huntingburg on Friday, three of the junior’s four wins came in games that didn’t reach the seventh inning. Not to discredit Moore’s success, but even Wildcat coach Terry Gobert admitted it’s “hard to get a read” on Moore’s pitching appearances.

But with Jasper ace Cal Krueger still nursing some soreness in his throwing shoulder and the long-awaited entry of Spencer Otto into the regular rotation still pending, Moore got his chance to serve up some pitches against a Raider lineup boasting six batters with averages of at least .340. The Raiders got their hits, but Moore exited with the ‘W,’ yielding zero earned runs in Class 3A No. 4 Jasper’s 6-1 win in a tussle of county and sectional rivals at League Stadium.

“This was (Moore’s) first big test and I thought he did a real good job,” Gobert said. “He’s had to pick it up with Krueger out, Otto out. He’s really carried the ball well for us along with some other guys. We just wanted to see how he’d do against some good teams and I thought he battled great.”

“Battling” is the best descriptor for Moore’s clash against the Raider bats. Moore (5-0) scattered eight runs over five innings, twice encountering situations with runners on second and third with no outs, and both times emerging relatively unscathed. The Raiders’ lone run came only after Luke Stetter’s single to center got away from Tyler Haskins and allowed Southridge’s Andrew Recker to score.

“That was definitely the best hitting team I’ve faced so far, and I knew I couldn’t just use my fastball all the time so I tried to get a good mix of curveballs and off-speed pitches in there to maybe keep them off-balance, keep them guessing,” Moore said. “I knew they were going to hit the ball. ... You’ve just got to do the best job you can when they do get on base to try and pitch out of it.”

It’s the kind of mentality Southridge starter Luke Stetter could have used.

Southridge’s Connor Craig broke for third base while Jasper’s Craig Shepherd manned the bag.

Jasper (14-5), after totaling just five hits against Stetter a year ago, touched up the junior for nine hits, including four in a three-run second inning. Tyler Begle (2-for-4) scored Krueger — who reached second with a stand-up double — on an RBI single and then trotted in after Craig Shepherd (3-for-5) roped a single to right field. Austin Alles belted another RBI single two batters later to score Shepherd.

“I think maybe on a different night it might have been a little different,” Raider coach Dave Schank said about Stetter’s performance, referencing the early breezy conditions. “I wouldn’t second-guess for a minute to put (Stetter) back out there against Jasper, but, wow, could they hit the ball. Holy cow.”

For Gobert, who has oft repeated that the Cats judge batting on extra-base hits, 11 singles wasn’t the best outcome, though Gobert did recognize that his players “didn’t try and pull everything,” he said. “We went with the pitch.”

It was similar for Southridge (14-4), except that the Raiders could never seem to muster that big hit. In three straight innings, Southridge put at least two men on base — twice with none out. The Raiders emerged from those frames with just one run. In the fifth, after Southridge’s first three batters all reached base with singles, Moore ended the inning by retiring the next two batters —  the last two via strikeout. Jasper tapped in one run in the fifth, and two in the sixth to create the decisive 6-1 lead.

Friday’s loss marked the Raiders’ first two-game skid of the season after falling to Gibson Southern 2-1 on Thursday. But Schank, always upbeat, said his team is nowhere near pushing the panic button. Although they do have a little more perspective.

“Now we see what we’ve got to do: We’ve got to hit the ball better,” Schank said. “We just played a team that we might face in the sectional. They hit it much better than us. They were betters hitters than us. We’ve got to work on that. It’s crunch time now. We’ve got to figure out how to beat a team that, in my opinion, is better than us.”

Although don’t tell that to Gobert, who, while pleased with his team’s performance, still witnessed the sometimes unsettling mental breakdowns his Cats have been prone to make. Southridge’s one run came after an error and Haskins ended the third when he tried to take home after a Begle single and got erased in a rundown — although Gobert admitted that was partly his mistake with some miscommunication as Haskins rounded third.

But the positives were apparent. A Jasper team that’s been chided for its low energy was visibly rowdy as players cat-called their teammates in the batter’s box. And the two ailing pitchers, Krueger and Otto, both made relief appearances in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively. It was Krueger’s first outing in two weeks and Otto’s first visit to the mound since the season opener.

Just more progress for a team making the incremental improvements.

“I thought we came ready to play. I don’t want perfection, but I want to take what’s ours,” Gobert said. “We did not use all our outs in all our innings there, but give (Southridge) credit, they made plays against us. ... The effort is there, we’ve just got to make the routine plays.”

Contact Joseph Fanelli

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