Reds gear up for seventh trip to NBC World Series

By HENDRIX MAGLEY
hmagley@dcherald.com

The Jasper Reds have been here before. In fact, this will mark the seventh time in their 126-year history that they’ve made this journey.

What is it that’s kept the Reds so connected to the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kansas? It seems to be drawn from a mutual respect that the Reds and the NBC World Series have had with each other since beginning their relationship back in 1993.

“There are a 1,000 reasons not to go — it’s a 10-hour trip, a lot of people can’t get off work to go — but it’s such a good tournament and it’s always been ran so well,” said Jasper Reds business manager Bob Alles. “It’s a good opportunity to show our guys what playing at the next level is like.”

Kevin Jenks, tournament director and general manager of the NBC World Series, has kept the Reds’ contact information at the ready for a long time.

The strong relationship between the two has allowed the Reds to be welcomed back with open arms on a platform where younger players have the ability to show off their stuff.

“I’ve learned with Bob (Alles), I can always take him for his word . He’s a man of integrity and what I’ve enjoyed in the short time I’ve known him, if he tells me he wants to bring a team then he makes it happen,” Jenks said. “There’s a great level of respect the two of us have for each other and it’s created a good friendship.”

The 2019 NBC World Series will begin this Saturday at 1 p.m. The Reds, who are coming off of their second straight undefeated season with a 13-0 record, will face the Derby City Twins of the Kansas Sunflower Collegiate League at 2 p.m. eastern time. If the Reds are victorious in that game, they’ll face the Dodge City (Kan.) A’s on Sunday but if they lose they’ll face them on Monday. The games will take place at Wichita State’s Eck Stadium.

Jasper’s NBC World Series roster is full of local talent including Jasper grads Noah Luebbehusen, Austin Simmers, Jacob Lents, Josh Weidenbenner, Jared Sermersheim and Nick Gobert, Southridge alum Colin Smith, Forest Park grad Trever Zink and current Northeast Dubois standout athlete Reece Bauer. They’ll be joined by Ben Lambert (Washington), Jake Gibbs, Eli Burkhart (Evansville Bosse), Zach Curtis (Evansville Bosse) and Drew Cusick.

Bill Alles will serve as the team’s manager with Evansville Bosse head baseball coach Craig Shoobridge coaching at third and Fred Sermersheim manning the first base duties.

The Reds are one of three teams with an at-large bid in the NBC World Series. The process of bringing Jasper to Wichita was actually rather simple.

“With Jasper, a lot of it just came down to Bob telling us how much they wanted to be here,” Jenks said. “We also haven’t had a lot of representation from that part of the country — we realize we’re rather heavy west of the Mississippi but it’s not by intention.”

So what’s the biggest benefit of a team such as the Jasper Reds competing on a big stage such as the NBC World Series?

While Alles personally hates the word “exposure”, he’s well aware of how competing in this tournament can help players who are interested in playing college baseball.

“Every time we’ve been out here, I’ve had a few junior college coaches ask me about one or two players,” Alles said. “I’ve always told the guys, this isn’t about me it’s about you. If someone’s interested in playing at the next level, I’ll try to help them get there. It’s such a great opportunity for those guys to see what’s out there.”

No matter what happens at Wichita this weekend (and potentially the week that follows), it’s safe to say the Reds will enjoy whatever comes their way. It’s just the way they’ve always handled things.

“People say a lot of teams tend to come here and play all tight and pressure-filled but we’ve always just been kind of loosey-goosey and fun,” Alles said. “We want to win but we want to have a good time and for our guys to enjoy it. This isn’t a job for us, we don’t get paid, we just want it to be fun for the players and ourselves.”




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