4A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP: Jasper beats Fishers for sixth title

Steve Krah
PBR Indiana Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS — Jasper High School made it to its 10th state championship game and the Wildcats came away Title No. 6.

The Wildcats bested Fishers 3-1 for the IHSAA Class 4A state title Tuesday, June 22 at Victory Field.

“We had our hands full,” said Jasper coach Terry Gobert. “We both earned (a state championship game berth).”

The Wildcats reigned after finishing the regular season ranked No. 12 in the poll and not getting a player selected for the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series.

“I never dreamed Jasper could go 31-2 and be under the radar. To win a 4A with a bunch of individuals says a lot about these kids.”

The Wildcats reigned over the Tigers (23-13) and earned its first 4A trophy behind the pitching of senior right-hander Grant Stratton (13-0) with Bob Gardner Mental Attitude Award winner Ross Peter doing the catching and pitch calling — something he’s done for two years — and driving in two runs.
“The coaches give us a scouting report and things like that,” said Peter. “We kept the same mix throughout the night. We knew their strengths.

“Grant did a great job of hitting spots and keeping the ball down.”

Stratton struck out seven and walked none in tossing a three-hitter. Of his 95 pitches, 71 were strikes.
“What Grant did tonight is what he’s done every game,” said Gobert. “He’s not overpowering. He mixes his stuff.”

Peter said the turning point in the Jasper season was likely the April 23 loss to Columbus East, the Wildcats’ last setback before a season-ending 22-game win streak.

“We got together and set our goals for the season and made sure everyone was on the same page,” said Stratton.

Fishers used two pitchers — junior right-hander Tate Warner (6-3) for four innings and freshman right-hander Jack Brown for two.

Warner fanned six, walked two and yielded three hits and three runs.

“We knew (Warner) threw balls away and we tried to get up on the plate,” said Gobert. “We have a drill named after Scott Rolen where the guys look away, away, away and when the balls in on their hands they just turn on it and I think that’s what they did.”

Brown whiffed three, walked two and gave up one hit and no runs.

The Matthew Cherry-coached Tigers brought the tying run to the plate against Stratton in the top of the seventh but could not break through.

Brown produced a one-out single to right followed by a called strike three for the second out and fly-out to junior left fielder Jack Ahlbrand for the title-clinching out.

Jasper left a runner at first and second base in the sixth.

With one out, Peter walked senior courtesy runner Blake Mann moved to second on a passed ball.
Junior Ben Henke drew a two-out walk before Brown got a groundout for the this out.
Fishers went down 1-2-3 against Stratton in the sixth with groundout, fly-out and caught-looking strikeout.

The Wildcat fifth ended with senior Eli Hopf being tagged out attempting to steal home.
Hopf reached base against Brown on a fielder’s choice and moved from first to third on a wild pitch.
Fishers scored one run in the fifth to cut the gap to 3-1.

With one out, senior Jack Braun was struck by a Stratton pitch, moved to second base on junior Zach Cox’s single to center, advanced to third base on sophomore Gavin Clayton’s infield single and scored on junior Dom Oliverio’s sacrifice fly to left.

Warner set Jasper down 1-2-3 in the fourth with a pair of strikeouts and thwarted bunt-for-a-hit attempt.

The Tigers had something cooking in the fourth, but Jasper ended the rally with a double play — junior second baseman Kody Morton to shortstop Henke to senior first baseman Andrew Wallace.

Sophomore Carson Dunn opened the inning by reaching by error. Junior Joey Brenczewski followed with a bunt single prior to a strikeout and the double play behind Stratton.

The Wildcats scored the game’s first three runs against Warner in the third.

Senior No. 9 hitter Caleb Burger drew a lead-off walk, moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Morton and scored on a double error on a ball put in play by Hopf.

Junior Connor Foley then smacked a ground-rule double to left before a strikeout and a two-out double to left by Peter that drove in Hopf and Foley.

Stratton put Fishers down 1-2-3 in the third with a groundout and two fly-outs.

Jasper stranded a runner at second base in the second.

Peter led off by doubling off the left field fence.

Tigers center fielder Cox made a spectacular diving catch to take a hit away from senior Jobe Luebbehusen.

The next two batters struck out looking against Warner.

Stratton struck out the side in the Fishers second.

The Wildcats left a runner at first base in the first.

Warner retired the first two batters with a pop-up and groundout, walked Foley then got the third out on a fly-out.

Fishers got a runner on base right away when lead-off man Dunn was struck by a Stratton pitch.

He was then eliminated on the front end of a double play ball hit by Brenczewki — second baseman Morton to shortstop Henke to first baseman Wallace before an inning-ending fly-out.

The Tigers were making their second state championship game appearance, having won the 4A crown in 2018.