2024, Varsity Baseball | June 8, 2024

Griffin Tobias takes the ball, helps Lake Central to semistate final

nwitimes.com – David P. Funk

LAFAYETTE — Griffin Tobias wanted the ball in the first semistate game.

The Lake Central senior remembers losing to Penn in the first game at semistate last season. Tobias has been thinking about that game for a year. He doesn’t feel like he gave his best effort.

“I wanted my revenge, even if it wasn’t Penn,” he said. “I just really wanted the ball. I wanted to set the mood for the day and go out with a win.”

Tobias did exactly that Saturday at Loeb Stadium in Lafayette, throwing seven innings of one-run, five-hit, six-strikeout baseball to help the Indians to a 5-1 win over Westfield in the Lafayette Jefferson Class 4A semistate semifinal.

“We had some thoughts about not starting him, going with Blake (Sivak) because we knew Westfield was there (to watch the regional final),” coach Mike Swartzentruber said. “He said he wants the ball. We want him to have the ball.”

The Indians (23-9) had a difficult start at the plate, though.

They had two on with no outs in the first inning. Tobias bunted the runners over, then Drew Kosteba hit a hard ground ball to third. Nick Robinson was thrown out trying to score.

Ryder Fernandez grounded out to short and LC missed the opportunity.

Westfield scored in its half of the first when Brayden Hibler brought in Caden Linsey with a sacrifice fly ball.

The Shamrocks (21-11) thought they had another run in the third when Drew Law also appeared to have a sacrifice fly to plate Ethan Colling. LC appealed to third base, though, and the umpires ruled that Colling left early.

The umpires were an issue for Lake Central for most of the day. In the fifth inning, Parker Robinson asked for time at the plate but it wasn’t granted. Ty Anderson’s pitch was called a strike.

Tobias was also told to modify his delivery, he said. He was told he was in a hybrid position, neither a full windup or a stretch, and it would be called a balk if he didn’t change. Tobias said it’s the same stance he’s used all season, one that he cleared with umpires before the year began.

The change didn’t seem to bother him, as he found a groove in the last three innings. He struck out four and faced only one more batter than the minimum during that stretch.

“I kind of liked it better, for some reason, and I started throwing better and felt smoother,” he said. “I was just pitching for contact and they made plays behind me so you’ve got to give props to them.”

Parker Robinson slapped a one-out triple in the Lake Central fourth inning, then scored on Brendan Smith’s double to even things up.

Smith scored on Nick Robinson’s single and then Quinn O’Bryan brought in two more with a double down the left field line.

“It’s not something we haven’t done this year, but I liked our at bats. I thought we had a good week of prep,” Swartzentruber said. “We finally put some hits together. We battle and put some balls in play hopefully we break through in one inning.”

Victor Vilegas, pinch running for Tobias, scored on a wild pitch in the seventh inning. Tobias was 2-for-3 with a walk and two doubles as a hitter.

“We’ve still got one more game. We’ve still got to get ready to play,” Tobias said. “The job ain’t done.”

LC will play Homestead (20-10) in the final Saturday night. The Spartans beat Concord 10-3 in the afternoon semifinal.

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