Home World Griffin Tobias, Lake Central shut down Munster

Griffin Tobias, Lake Central shut down Munster

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Letting a shutout slip away irked Lake Central senior right-hander Griffin Tobias a bit.

That twinge spoke to the Indiana recruit’s competitiveness, the opponent, the stage and the setting.

“It is what it is,” he said. “I got the job done. I’m happy about it. We got the win, so that’s all that matters.”

But Tobias was dominant during the Indians’ 7-1 win against Munster in front of a capacity crowd in the first round of the Class 4A Munster Sectional on Thursday night.

Tobias struck out 13 while allowing just three hits, no walks and a hit batter as Lake Central (19-9) advanced to the semifinals to play Merrillville on Saturday.

After a one-out single in the first inning, two hits came in the seventh, when Tobias said he “tried to gear up” on a fastball and “threw it 10 feet over his (catcher’s) head” for a wild pitch to plate the lone run for the Mustangs (16-12).

But he regrouped to strike out the last batter, finally exulting in celebration.

“You’re always going to feel good,” he said. “Big crowd, big rival game, first game of the tournament for us, the adrenaline’s pumping. Yeah, I felt good out there.

“I always get juiced up in this environment. The crowd’s into it, your team’s into it, especially when there’s a rival. It’s a great atmosphere.”

Lake Central's Griffin Tobias pitches during a game against Munster in the first round of the Class 4A Munster Sectional on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Michael Gard/for the Post-Tribune)
Lake Central’s Griffin Tobias delivers a pitch during a game against Munster in the first round of the Class 4A Munster Sectional on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Michael Gard / Post-Tribune)

Tobias struck out seven straight from the second to fourth innings and nine of 10 into the fifth.

Following that run, he flashed his athleticism, leaping to corral a chopper for the final out of the fifth and hustling to cover first base when senior Brenden Smith ranged far to his right and threw over for the second out of the sixth. Tobias ended the sixth with a strikeout by pulling the string, doing just enough to restrain his exuberance.

“I just go out there and trust my stuff,” he said. “I have great defense behind me. So I’m just trying to throw it over the plate and let my stuff do the work. If they put it in play, I hope I have a fielder there because I know they’re going to make a play.”

Tobias impressed senior catcher Drew Arnold.

“His stuff is just electric,” Arnold said. “He lets what he’s doing on the field talk for himself. Whatever he does on the field ultimately talks for him. He doesn’t need to do other things to show any other team up. He just stays true to his game.

“It’s unmatched at a high school level. There’s no other game that will ever be like Lake Central-Munster. Showing up in this game is the most important for us, and how Griff pitched was excellent considering the pressure from everybody surrounding it.”

The teams split two games during the regular season and have become perennial postseason opponents. They’ve met in sectionals five straight times, with Lake Central having won four of those games.

“I have the most respect for coach Mik (Mike Mikolajczyk) and his program, and I did for coach (Bob) Shinkan — I got to coach against him for a few years,” Lake Central coach Mike Swartzentruber said. “There’s nobody I’d rather beat than them, and that’s more respect than anything as far as the rivalry goes, and I’m sure they feel the same way about us when they beat us. It’s fun.

“I hope our crowd comes out like this however much we have left in us because we’ll need it. Our kids feed off it pretty well.”

Lake Central's Andrew Arnold runs to first base during a game against Munster in the first round of the Class 4A Munster Sectional on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Michael Gard/for the Post-Tribune)
Lake Central’s Drew Arnold runs to first base during a game against Munster in the first round of the Class 4A Munster Sectional on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Michael Gard / Post-Tribune)

Swartzentruber said Lake Central can’t “bludgeon” teams with offense as it has in past seasons with players like Josh Adamczewski and instead has “committed to small ball.” Smith had two doubles to lead the way against Munster.

But Tobias can make that work. With his vintage performance, he improved to 5-2 with a 1.11 ERA, 71 strikeouts and just five walks in 44 innings. Last season, his first as Lake Central’s No. 1 starter after he was the team’s closer as a sophomore, he went 6-1 with a 1.23 ERA, 71 strikeouts and 15 walks in 51 1/2 innings.

Tobias used this past offseason to continue to get bigger and stronger. He weighs about 190 pounds, up from 170 last season and 140 two years ago. He continued to pack on the calories but also trained smarter, not overdoing it and allowing his body the necessary time to rest to make gains.

Tobias has used his added strength to consistently reach the low 90s and top out in the mid-90s and to increase his spin rates.

“When you have a guy who can throw strikes, that’s good,” Swartzentruber said. “But when you have a guy who can throw strikes with his stuff, now you have something. He’s pretty special.

“Unfortunately, we can’t run him out there every day like softball. He’s probably done. I can’t imagine we’re going to use him even Monday. But we have some other dudes. He was great. I can’t say enough about him. He’s been a four-year guy for us. He’s going to be hard to replace whenever that time comes. Hopefully it’s a few more weeks.”



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