CHESTERTON | Where the ball was hit by Trojans designated hitter Cameron O’Brien, no one was getting to it.
O’Brien hit a fifth-inning pitch up into the jet stream and well beyond the left-field fence for a three-run home run, capping a four-run outburst Wednesday.
Times No. 8 Chesterton exploded for a seven-run barrage during its last two at-bats to upset No. 5 Lake Central 9-3 in Duneland Athletic Conference play.
“A home run – that’s easy runs right there,” Trojans coach Jack Campbell said. “We got some key hits and finally put the ball in play and hit the ball hard.”
Chesterton took the lead in the on Cole Teal’s RBI single, two batters ahead O'Brien, who finished with four RBIs. The Trojans added three insurance runs in the sixth, offsetting Lake Central’s unearned run in the top of the seventh.
While the homer by O’Brien may or may not have needed help to get over the fence, there’s no question the steady wind blowing across the field had an impact on the game. In addition to playing with the trajectories of fly balls and foul popups, the wind made the sunny afternoon feel considerably colder, especially compared to the weather in the region over the weekend.
“With the cold and the wind, it’s going to affect hitting and pitching both,” Campbell said. “But I thought both pitchers did a good job considering the conditions.”
Chesterton’s offensive outburst late in the game nearly overshadowed a solid pitching performance by Matt Kubacki, who picked up the win on six-plus innings of two-hit baseball and racked up seven strikeouts. With a 9-2 lead, Kubacki took the mound for the seventh, but he was pulled after walking the leadoff batter.
“We reached the point, pitch count-wise, where he wanted to go back out but we’re concerned about how many pitches to let him throw this early in the year,” Campbell said.
Lake Central scored a run on a Kubacki wild pitch in each of the first two innings and in the second had two on after Kubacki hit the No. 8 and No. 9 batters, but the junior struck out a pair to strand the runners and end the inning.
“He struggled with his curveball, but he battled through it,” Campbell said. “I had him throw more curveballs (during warmups) between innings. You can’t be a one-pitch pitcher, you just can’t. He battled back. He stayed in there.”