Reds set to open SundayJune 4, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
JASPER - The Jasper Reds could be short manned when they are scheduled to begin their 2021 season on Sunday.
That's because they might not have their roster just yet, since some of their roster is still playing high school baseball. Eli Hopf, Jobe Luebbehusen, Grant Stratton and Andrew Wallace are hoping to help Jasper win a Regional 4 championship on Saturday, but after they play their last games as Wildcats, they'll officially join the Reds.
"(Stratton's) going to be pitching a lot of innings for us once they're eliminated, but I hope that's in the state finals - I hope we win the state," Reds business manager Bob Alles said. "Which would mean he would miss half our season, but that's fine. We want the Cats to win. I played for them, coached for them and whatnot. So, we're always glad to see Jasper High School do well."
For the time being, the Reds will roll with Wood Memorial baseball coach and veteran pitcher Bo Daves in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader against Hoosier Townball, while the second start is slated to go to Austin Gossmann. Gossmann is an alum of the University of Southern Indiana, and recently had a tryout with the Evansville Otters. Alles hopes Gossman gets his opportunity with the Otters.
It does raise a question, though, what the Reds' pitching staff might look like for the time being if the Wildcats make a deep postseason run. The Reds have relied heavily on Daves, as evidenced by him going 12-1 during the last four seasons, according to an email Alles sent on Wednesday. They'll have former Los Angeles Dodgers farmhand Vinny Santarsiero back this year, but the Tecumseh pitching coach is set to be the team's closer.
"We're still considering some other pitchers, and we just got a doubleheader every weekend for the next four weeks," Alles said. "Hopefully, we can get by with the guys that we have. Of course (Former Northeast Dubois standout Reece) Bauer can pitch, and there's different guys that can throw an inning or two here or there. We might just piece it together that way."
When he's not pitching, though, Bauer is slated to play second base. He batted .286 (6-for-21) for Wabash College this season, drove three in and scored nine runs. His college teammate, former Wildcat Austin Simmers, will be joining him with the Reds. According to the email, Simmers was voted MVP of the Little Giants this year. Simmers could play shortstop this season despite it not being his current position. Alles said this is because the Reds have no true shortstop at the moment.
The Reds have a pair of catchers this year in Tecumseh alumnus Dustin DuPont, who is part of the team at Danville Area Community College, and also USI's A.J. Wheeler, a former Evansville North player.
They'll have different players patrolling first base. There's Wallace, but also Brennon Williams, who's from Owensboro and played against the Reds in 2020 as part of an Owensboro team. Landon Mokris also played against the team last year as part of the Sandlot Stars, and he went to grade school in Jasper.
DuPont is a candidate to play third base when he isn't catching, and there's Stratton to play the hot corner, too. Alles also mentioned Bauer and Simmers as possibility at that spot.
The Reds are slated to start LaWan Rollins in centerfield, and Alles lauded how fast of a player he is. He imagines Hopf will play a lot of that spot when he joins the team, citing how good his defense is. They'll also have different options in the corner outfield. Jacob Crabtree is back, and they'll have Mt. Vernon's Nathan Burke of the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology as another option. Luebbehusen can be utilized in a lot of spots in addition to pitching.
They'll also have the honor of competing in the National Amateur Baseball Federation World Series in July in Youngstown, Ohio. They're guaranteed three games. However, it's a 22-and-under event, which would preclude some members of the Reds' roster.
The Reds have not lost a regular season game since July 7, 2017 when they fell to the St. Louis Eagles, and they'll try to keep that stretch going on Sunday.
"We always try to win every game - that's understandable, but we want to have fun, that's number one," Alles said.
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