Wildcats take opener by 18April 1, 2021
By COREY STOLZENBACH
WASHINGTON — Jasper had the task of braving the weather on a blistering cold Thursday after the rain cancelled Tuesday’s opener during the top of the third at Boonville. The Wildcats (1-0) led the Pioneers, 10-2, when the game was called, but they picked up right where they left off Thursday — notching a 20-2 victory of Washington.
They batted around in both the top of the first and top of the third innings, thanks in large part to the 18 walks that they drew against the Hatchets. They chased junior starter Nick Sandullo after 0.2 innings and tagged him with the loss. Jasper tallied six walks in the top of the first alone.
“It’s just one of those games that got away from them early, but we had some guys put the ball in play when you need to,” Wildcats coach Terry Gobert said. “That’s always big.”
Senior Eli Hopf got it all started for the Wildcats by walking in the first at-bat of the game, and that began his big day individually, too. He was 3-for-4 with four RBIs and four runs scored. The first of his four runs scored came on an error by Hatchets first baseman senior Jack Fry for a 1-0 Wildcats lead. They plated eight runs in the top of the first, with their final seven runs in the opening frame coming with two outs.
That was plenty of run support for senior southpaw Blake Mann, who grabbed the win for the Wildcats. Mann threw 47 pitches in four innings and tried to stay warm in the Jasper dugout between innings with his jacket on.
“That’s Blake’s first varsity appearance in baseball,” Gobert said. “He did a nice job. That’s a lot to deal with, but it’s pretty easy to pitch with a lead, too.”
Senior Jobe Luebbehusen closed out the game for Jasper, as he worked around a leadoff single in the bottom of the fifth to retire the last three batters in order. Senior Seth Holtsclaw’s flyout to Jasper junior Jack Ahlbrand in right field sealed the deal and got the Wildcats in the win column for the first time in 2021.
Gobert knows there are some things that he has to gauge after Thursday’s win against the Hatchets. He wanted his players to work on their timing after Tuesday’s rainout at Boonville, but he told the Herald on Thursday that he would have to go back and look at things. Gobert noted that Jasper’s coaches stay on the players about things, even in wins.
“I think that’s one reason we’ve been consistent over the years is we don’t get too excited about a win like this,” he said. “You’re supposed to take advantage when you get that many opportunities.”
The Wildcats are slated to have their home opener Friday at Ruxer Field against Shakamak. Gobert is excited about it, and he hopes his players are, too. He lauded the quality of opponent that the Lakers are. He wants to get his pitchers out on the mound and get a feel of things because he knows the Wildcats are going to be tested with upcoming opponents Shakamak (Friday), Bloomington South (Tuesday on the road) and Northeast Dubois (April 9 at home).
He wishes it could be warmer out, but he’s hoping to get a good crowd for the team’s first game at Ruxer since 2019.
“I’ll be thinking about those 2020 seniors that really didn’t get the opportunity to play with us,” Gobert said.
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