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Austin Peterson

Chesterton's Austin Peterson shut out Lake Central and surrendered just three hits Tuesday while striking out 11.

John J. Watkins, File, The Times

ST. JOHN — When Austin Peterson is pitching, there isn't much down time between pitches.

"I love when he works fast," Chesterton infielder Tommy Benson said. "You get out of the inning in five pitches, you get to go hit. Hitting's the fun part of baseball. When guys are taking forever, sometimes you get distracted, thinking about other stuff. Him working that fast keeps us in the game."

Peterson was efficient and effective Tuesday, shutting out Times No. 1 Lake Central and limiting the Indians to three hits as the No. 3 Trojans forged a tie atop the Duneland Athletic Conference with a 3-0 victory in a game that took 90 minutes.

"I just think that's how baseball should be played," Peterson said. "Last week, it was a little bush league what LaPorte did. They made the game too long. Step in, step out, every pitch. Props to (L.C.) for getting the game going. I think the good thing about the team, Logan (Lawson) and Tommy up the middle weren't getting a lot of balls. I don't know if they got any, but they were just constantly in the game, saying funny stuff."

There wasn't a great need for defense behind Peterson, who fanned 11 and walked one, but third baseman Grant Brunt and center fielder Kolton Cardenas both made strong defensive plays to help him out.

"Pete was awesome," Trojans coach Jack Campbell said. "No. 1, he's a tremendous competitor, No. 2, he throws strikes. When it's 3-2 to every batter, pretty soon you're looking for clovers. "

Peterson sure didn't look like a guy who jammed his knee last week against LaPorte. He commanded his whole arsenal, getting Lake Central hitters to chase his two-seam fastball and changeup to lefties and freezing several hitters with a two-strike slider.

"I didn't know how my knee was going to react," he said. "I had to be perfect as far as location. I couldn't leave balls up if I wasn't getting push off the mound. (Trainer Bernie) Stento was trying to tell me I'd be out 10 days. I was like, 'No, I've got to pitch against L.C.' That's who I am. I've got to be here."

Lake Central threatened just once, getting Giovanni Lopez to third with one out in the first, but Peterson struck out the next two to strand him.

"You can say we had an off offensive game but obviously the pitching had a lot to do with it," Indians coach Mike Swartzentruber said. "We've seen (Peterson) enough now to know he's going to be around the strike zone, so we wanted to be aggressive, look fastball, hit strikes. We tried to get up on the plate. He likes to get in a rhythm. Not many people have solved him and we sure as heck didn't."

The performance overshadowed a solid outing by Zach Dobos, who was nicked for single runs in the first, second and seventh. Peterson singled in a run in the first and Benson homered to left in the seventh for what is believed to be the first long ball by an opponent in the field's four years, according to the Lake Central staff.

"My first three at-bats, every single time, he started me off with a first-pitch curveball," Benson said. "I wasn't sitting curveball but in the back of my head I thought it might be coming. He left it up."

The Indians (19-4, 10-3) and Trojans (14-6, 10-3) meet again today with the winner claiming the DAC title.

"We knew the opportunity is we've got to win one out of two," Swartzentruber said. "We would've liked to have won the first one but the opportunity is still there. We haven't been outplayed in three weeks and we got outplayed. We've got to flush it, move on and get our minds right."

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Sports reporter

Jim was keeping standings on his chalkboard from the time he could print and keeping kickball stats in grade school at St. Bridget's. He covers all manner of prep sports for The Times and is a long-suffering Chicago Cubs fan.