Reds leave no doubt in doubleheader sweepJuly 6, 2020
BY JONATHAN SAXON
HUNTINGBURG — The Jasper Reds started the Fourth of July weekend on a high note with a doubleheader sweep against the Saline County (Ill.) Monarchs on Friday. The Reds (4-0) defeated the Monarchs (0-2) 13-1 in five innings in the first game, and 10-1 in seven innings for the second.
Reds manager Bill Alles pointed to the dominance of the pitching staff and lively batting as the main engines that drove Jasper during both games.
“We really came out to play tonight,” he said. “Pitching was superb, and we had some timely hitting. I was happy with it.”
But aside from the wins, the Reds counted their blessings being able to take to the field for some baseball. Sports leagues the world over have had to make hard choices concerning how they operate in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Some have canceled their seasons, while others worked to figure out what a delayed season looks like. The Reds, however, were in action, and Alles was almost at a loss for words sharing what it meant to play on Friday.
“It just means so much,” said Alles. “There was so much doubt for so long, and it just really feels good. It’s baseball, and there’s nothing like it.”
“I’m just glad to be playing baseball,” added designated hitter Brandon Jackson, who noted the cancellation of the Dubois County Bombers’ season gave the Reds a chance to play their first four games at League Stadium. “I didn’t want to miss a whole year. Every year is important to me. Because of COVID, it kind of sucks, but it’s allowed us an opportunity to play on this awesome field. It’s got such a historical background to it, so it’s icing on the cake to play someplace with such a great field.”
Wild pitches and walks were the name of the game for Jasper’s first contest. Second baseman Tucker Schank and third baseman Reece Bauer both took their first bags on walks and came back to bite the Monarchs. Schank scored the game’s first run after stealing third base on a wild pitch and taking advantage of mistakes in the field to round the corner for home.
Bauer also advanced to third in the chaos, and came in shortly after when first baseman Chase Taylor hit a single. Shortstop Gage Wilson used a sacrifice fly to score Taylor, and Jackson scored catcher Jakob Schuler, who got on base with a walk, to put the Reds up 4-0 at the end of the first inning.
Jasper repeated the four-run performance in the second inning. Schank led off with another walk before being driven in by a triple from Bauer. Bauer scored after another wild pitch from Monarchs starter James Lewis (0-1). Taylor and Schuler also drew walks to get into scoring position, and Jackson sent them home to put the Reds up 8-0.
Extra hitter Marcus Allen was the lone Monarch that scored in the first game. First he led off the top of the third with a single and later took advantage of a rare mistake from starter Kris Weisheit to score. But the Reds retaliate swiftly with RBI hits from Schank and center fielder Lawan Rollins. Three more RBI hits from Rollins, Wilson and Jackson brought the first game to a close in the fifth.
The second game started just like the first. The Reds quickly loaded the bases after a leadoff single from Schank and walks from Bauer (who was plunked by starter Bryson Landreth) and Taylor. Then Schuler drew another walk to score Schank, and right fielder Jacob Crabtree singled in Bauer. A Jackson walk scored Taylor, and left fielder Manning Webb drove in Schuler. Schank then clocked a deep single to right field that brought home designated hitter Bo Daves and Carter Stamm in the bottom of the second for a 6-0 lead.
Both teams came up empty for the next two innings before Allen drove in Simms in the top of the fifth inning. But the Reds came back with four more runs from Crabtree, Jackson, Wilson and Phillip Nobblit in the bottom of the sixth.
Weisheit (1-0) finished with five hits, four strikeouts and a walk in three innings for the first game. Stamm had one hit, five strikeouts and one walk in two innings. Weston Allen (1-0) started the second game and had one hit, five strikeouts and one walk in three innings. Bauer struck out three in two innings, and Daves fanned four in two innings.
Jackson finished with four hits and four RBIs on the day. Crabtree had three hits with an RBI. Schank, Bauer, Rollins, Wilson and Daves each had two hits and a combined 11 RBIs.
The Reds play again on Sunday in a doubleheader against the Owensboro Hardballers at the Jasper High School JV field. Jackson, who helped organize the Hardballers, will find himself in the opposing dugout Sunday. He hopes he can twist the britches of Alles a bit with a win, especially since they came so close last season.
“I got a ragtag team to come up and play against Jasper,” Jackson said. “I try to beat them because (Alles) hates losing so badly. Last year we were beating them into the sixth inning and we lost, so it’s become personal for me.”
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