Big games are noting new for Mount Carmel center fielder Jason Gasser.
A three-year starter for both the baseball and football teams, he has seen his share of high-pressure games and knows how to prepare.
Gasser was a starting wide receiver and defensive back on the Caravan's Class 8A football state champs. Two years ago, he was a starter on the football and baseball teams which made it to state. The football team lost to Maine South in the Class 8A state championship, and the baseball team fell to eventual state champ Lyons Township in one Class 4A semifinal.
Gasser and his teammates know they are not there yet as they face Lockport tonight at the Class 4A Standard Bank Stadium Super-Sectional. The winner advances to the state finals at Silver Cross Field.
"We have good team chemistry and we have played real well in the playoffs," Gasser said. "We don't expect anything to be easy, but we will continue to play hard."
Gasser said his experience in football is a plus.
"We've been in big games, both in football and baseball, so my job is to make sure if things don't go our way, to make sure no one panics," Gasser said. "At Mount Carmel, the seniors are expected to lead and make sure everyone is focused."
Gasser led by example in Wednesday's semifinal win against Lyons Township as he made a diving first-inning catch to stop a potential Lions rally.
"Jason has been here as a starter for three years and we know he is going to be a leader," Mount Carmel coach Brian Hurry said. "He, Tommy Hayes, Jerry Houston, Jeremy Kravetz, those guys have been up here on the varsity and they know how to react in pressure situations."
Gasser, a Dyer resident, was also a pitcher and had a 7-0 record with a less than 1.00 ERA last year when he developed tendinitis in his right elbow. He did not pitch the rest of the season. Though it was tough, he didn't let it bother him.
"I worked on my fielding and hitting more," Gasser said. "Over the winter, I took a lot of fly balls because if I couldn't pitch, I was still going to do anything I could to help my team. I think that helped me be a better player this year."
He also said his football skills have helped in baseball, as has weight lifting.
"I was a receiver and defensive back, so I know how to dive for balls and time them," Gasser said. "You just develop a love and knowledge of both games."
Gasser said Ball State is looking at him for baseball as a preferred walk-on, but his concern is Lockport.
"In my four years, I had some great teammates and played on some great teams," Gasser said. "We had a nice year, but we are not done yet."