Eight-run fourth lifts Jasper

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Jasper senior Eli Hopf (11) crosses home plate Saturday against New Palestine. Hopf was 4-for-5 with three runs scored and drove in two en route to Jasper's 12-8 win. 


The finale of the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame Classic didn't start so well for Jasper on Saturday, but then the fourth inning came.

Jasper held New Palestine off the scoreboard for the first time in the top of the fourth, and then the Wildcats (16-2) began chipping away at the 6-2 lead the Dragons built. Jasper batted around that all started with a double from senior Eli Hopf, and he would come around to score twice in the inning. He was 4-for-5 overall with three runs scored and two knocked in.

The Wildcats sent 13 men to the plate, scoring eight runs that turned a four-run deficit into a four-run lead. They capitalized off a couple of New Palestine errors that aided their big inning, and that propelled them to their 12-8 win.

"There were some things we did tonight I liked," Jasper coach Terry Gobert said. "We did a good job of running the bases and got some timely hitting. We left some guys out there, too, but to overcome a start like that is big.

"We just gave them too many runs, that's kind of concerning, but I thought we did a good job just staying with it," Gobert continued. "Obviously, the eight-run inning helped."

New Palestine had its way to begin the game, jumping on junior starter Jack Ahlbrand of Jasper. Ahlbrand walked four Dragons, with three of them coming around to score. The Wildcats then turned to freshman Andrew Noblitt for his varsity debut in the top of the third. Noblitt didn't walk anybody in the 3.1 innings that he went and got the win.

Noblitt taking the hill for Jasper meant he was carrying on the Noblitt family name in the Jasper baseball program. Andrew's father, Andy, played for Gobert and graduated in 1992. His brother, Phillip, also went through the program, and graduated in 2019. Andrew's grandfather, Don, coached the Wildcats to state in 1967 and 1968.

"It feels like an honor," said Andrew, who hopes to carry on the family name some more.

"Any time a kid goes out there for the first time and (gets) a win, you're happy for him, but knowing the family, it's even more fun," Gobert said.

The Dragons got a couple of runs back in the top of the sixth, and had loaded the bases with one out. Although they could've retaken the lead with one swing, Jasper did its part to prevent New Palestine from tacking on any more runs.

Junior Kody Morton shut the door by striking out junior Maddox Manes to end it. This gave Jasper its eighth consecutive win, and a perfect 3-0 record in the classic.

Yet, the grind is just beginning for the Wildcats, who will have five games in a six-day span this coming week, starting with Monday at home against Gibson Southern.

"We got to find a little pitching," Gobert said. "Some people are going to have to take the ball and get some innings. You hate to limp into (Evansville) North (Wednesday on the road), and certainly Southridge (Friday at home) and Forest Park (Saturday at home)."

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