2024, Varsity Baseball | July 7, 2024

The Times 2024 Player of the Year: Griffin Tobias will go down at one of LC’s most decorated athletes

nwitimes.com – Grace Opinker

ST. JOHN — As Lake Central’s Griffin Tobias crept closer to his 120-pitch count limit at the Class 4A State Championship game, he had one thing on his mind.

“We have to win so I can go get food and celebrate,” he said with a chuckle.

The Indians No. 1 pitcher threw 118 pitches in 8 1/3 innings against Mooresville in what became the longest game in IHSAA state tournament history. As the Indians celebrated the 2-1 victory on the bus ride home, Tobias scarfed down three chicken sandwiches catered to the team by Chick-fil-A.

Tobias was surprised, but satisfied with the late night celebration bite.

“It was definitely a much better meal than what I was expecting,” he said. “That meal tasted really good.”

The Indiana signee had what he described as an “eventful” season for LC with 41 strikeouts and six walks in the state tournament alone. The four-year varsity letterman is The Times Player of the Year.

Head coach Mike Swartzentruber recalls discovering Tobias’ athletic abilities a few years prior to his freshman year. Swartzentruber said Tobias “oozed” with baseball talent from the first time he watched him play.

“He was a must-get at LC,” said Swartzentruber, The Times Coach of the Year. “I had a pretty good indication that when he came he’d have a chance to compete right away. During the fall of his freshman year it became evident he’d be one of our top guys.”

Tobias entered Lake Central’s program as solid middle infielder, unaware he’d exit as a dominant pitcher who could throw a 95-mph fastball. He gives credit to his grandpa for putting a baseball in his hands as soon as he could walk.

Growing up, swimming was the favored sport in the Tobias household because Griffin’s mom swam for the University of Miami and his dad was a diver at Wabash. Although Tobias competitively swam in elementary and middle school, his calling was on the diamond.

The Prep Baseball Report All-State pitcher began his career at LC as a role player. Tobias would come off the bench when Swartzentruber needed him at second, third or short. Toward the end of Tobias’ sophomore year, the Indians coaching staff knew he had the ability to throw strikes and utilized him as a reliever.

Swartzentruber recalled LC being in a bind during a 2022 sectional semifinal game against Munster. Tobias was called to the mound and helped his team win the game 8-5 in extra innings.

Tobias served as a reliever again for the regional championship against Penn. Although the Indians lost 5-4, Swartzentruber knew Tobias would be a key pitcher for LC the next two seasons.

“We knew what we had, but to see it on display, we knew his junior year he was going to be a guy for us,” Swartzentruber said. “Then junior year he goes in as our No. 1 guy. He was awesome.”

Last year Tobias threw 51 1/3 innings with 71 strikeouts and an 1.23 ERA. He finished this season with a 7-2 record, a 0.95 ERA and 98 strikeouts over 66 1/3 innings.

Swartzentruber said Tobias will be a dominant pitcher at the Division I level. He expressed gratitude toward Tobias’ athletic abilities and emphasized how he flipped the script, committing to IU as an infielder but transitioned into a pitcher by graduation.

“He’s going to have some adjusting, but he has such a high baseball IQ that he picks up on things so fast,” he said. “He’ll figure out what he has to do at that level. He’s going to give them everything he’s got.”

Swartzentruber said he’s been blessed to coach Tobias, who is going down as one of the most decorated baseball players in school history. The All-DAC playmaker was named to the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association All-State First Team.

Though Tobias has earned a handful of accolades while wearing blue and white, the one he loves most is the state title. If he had to choose between every award and winning that four-hour long game, he’d always pick the game, he said.

Tobias hopes he’ll have a shot at playing professional ball in the near future. It would be a great opportunity and achievement, he said. For now, he just wants to continue having fun playing the game he loves, and see where the base path takes him.

“It seems impossible it’s been four years already,” Swartzentruber said. “To do what he’s done in such a lowkey fashion, and given all the praise when he could be very ego-centric — it’s been a pleasure.”

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