OF/C/INF/P Wagner finds freedom of fluidityJuly 18, 2017
By HENDRIX MAGLEY
HUNTINGBURG — At the beginning of the ninth inning, Caleb Wagner found himself in the place he feels most comfortable — on the pitcher’s mound at League Stadium preparing for his windup and blasting a heater past Muhlenberg County’s Jacob Morris.
Even though it wasn’t his best performance of the summer for the Dubois County Bombers — he gave up a walk and a screaming double over Logan Moseley’s head that drove in a run, ending his night on the mound — his brief pitching stint provided the last checkmark to knock something off of his bucket list: play all nine positions in one game. While the Bombers lost to the Stallions 6-4, with the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage clinched throughout the playoffs, they have the flexibility to tinker with some of the positions.
“A lot of those positions I had never played before tonight,” Wagner said. “It was fun to just be able to go out there and have fun with it.”
Wagner played in the outfield for the first time ever during Sunday’s game against Owensboro, which Bombers coach Andy Lasher called a “trial run” for Monday’s merry-go-round of positions.
“We had talked about it earlier in the season where if we got to a point where everything in the standings had been decided then we’d try it,” Lasher said. “He actually approached me about it in the first couple of weeks we were here this summer.”
Wagner, who has walked just nine batters this season and leads the team in strikeouts with 51, has found himself most often on the mound for the Bombers despite splitting time pitching and catching at Oakland City University after he was the starting catcher for Gibson Southern’s Class 3A state runner-up team in 2014.
While Wagner did play some third base at both Oakland City and at his junior college days at Olney Central where Lasher coaches, he would prefer to stick to the other side of the infield if he ever plays there again.
“It’s scary, you’re just hoping that a ball doesn’t come at you,” Wagner said. “If I could play in the infield I’d play on the first-base side because playing shortstop and third base sucks.”
Wagner hasn’t been the only player out of position recently for the Bombers. In Sunday night’s loss, all five “pitchers” were position players — outfielder Jaxson Blair, first baseman Jackson Blevins, outfielder Zack Gray, shortstop Hunter Childress and catcher Eli Knust.
The position jumble continued Monday as Moseley shifted from pitching to starting at second base, pitcher Jordan Cozart started at shortstop and outfielder Jake Slunder tried his hand at pitching in the eighth inning.
“I think it’s fun for them and I know they have some fun with it,” Lasher said. “I hope they appreciate it because it’s not often that we get this many games to toy with some things.”
Moseley, who’s primarily acted as a reliever and a closer this year for the Bombers, was happy to get back to playing in the infield — his primary spot at Southern Union State Community College in Georgia.
A single from Moseley in the seventh inning was his first hit of the season; he has a total of just five plate appearances this summer. At Southern Union State, Moseley was fourth on the team with 10 doubles, so being able to get back in the batter’s box and play in the field was welcoming.
“I was happy I got a hit but I also got an error, too,” Moseley said. “But I’ve played infield my whole life so it felt good to get back there. I really enjoyed it.”
On Sunday night, pitcher Tyler Hagedorn got to do something he’s been pleading to do all season — play shortstop. Lasher joked that Hagedorn had been begging him to let him try the infield all season, so “I finally had to do it to shut him up.”
Despite going 0-for-4 and accounting for a total of six outs — “25 percent of our outs that night” Moseley was quick to blurt out in the background — Hagedorn’s confident he at least looked good out there while fielding grounders.
“I looked swagged-out on the field,” a smiling Hagedorn said. “I had the wrist tape, the eye black and everything — I had a bad day at the plate but no errors though, so that’s good.”
But with just two games remaining before Dubois County plays its first playoff game at League Stadium on Friday, expect to see most of the Bombers start to find their way back to their preferred positions.
That means Wagner’s more likely to remain firing fastballs from the mound instead of showing his arm strength from center field.
“I don’t think I’ll be playing in the outfield anymore because I think we want to try to go out and win the championship,” Wagner said with a laugh. “We’re gonna lock in the next couple of days and get ready for the playoffs.”
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