Grin and ‘Barrett’: Chesterton junior tosses complete game in win over La Porte
By CJ PETERS
CHESTERTON 一 When a coach singles out a player as one of the best they’ve ever coached for their team, that in itself is a major compliment.
When it's someone like Jack Campbell, who is in his 53rd year as the Chesterton head coach, it carries a little more weight, and junior leadoff hitter Brayden Barrett is one of those players for Campbell.
“He’s one of the best shortstops I’ve had here, and I’ve been here a long time,” he said. “He has this time clock, where he knows when to take his time or when to hurry, and most kids don’t have that, they just pick it up and throw it. But he can gauge things depending on the hitter, how the ball’s hit and so on, he has a knack for that.
Coming into Wednesday’s game against La Porte, Barrett had 7 1/3 innings to his name, having made a start three weeks ago and three appearances as a closer.
There wasn’t much notice for his second start.
“I found out maybe an hour before the game,” he said. “It was kind of like one of those things where it’s, ‘Hey, Brayden, you’re starting.”
Nearly matching his season total in innings, Barrett went the distance in a 5-3 Duneland Conference win. He shut out the Slicers into the seventh inning, eventually stranding runners at second and third as a leaping Greg Guernsey snared an RJ Anglin line drive at second base.
“I thought about putting (Anglin) on,” Campbell said. “In growing up, I’m sure Brayden has always been on the smaller side, and those guys usually develop that bulldog attitude because they’re always told they’re not big enough. But you can’t measure his heart.
“He has a great presence on the mound as a pitcher. Great curveball, good velocity, great arm and pretty good control, he’s a guy that throws 81, 82 (miles per hour) on the mound and when he’s in the field on the run, probably near 85.”
Barrett struck out six for Chesterton (7-7, 5-3 Duneland Athletic Conference) and didn’t walk a batter (one hit by pitch). He scattered eight hits, working out of a bases-loaded jam in the third by getting Anglin to tap a grounder back to him.
"With Anglin being one of their best hitters, you gotta try and be careful but you also can’t walk him,” Barrett said. “So I just had to throw strikes, make a pitch and hope my defense makes a play.”
The junior right-hander settled in during the fourth, fifth, sixth innings, facing one over the minimum.
“I definitely felt good then, I felt confident in all my pitches and I was throwing strikes with all of them,” Barrett said. “It was just trying to mix up the elevation, mixing up the speeds. Obviously they have some good hitters. They’re not ranked where they are in the state for nothing.
“With the wind blowing in, it was a good pitcher's day, so I just tried to mix it in and out and keep it off their barrels. It was a very big win for us, not only for the team, but it keeps us alive in the DAC standings.”
Chesterton scored twice in the first with Barrett leading off the inning with a ringing single and scoring on the first of La Porte’s s errors. He was 2-for-3 with a pair of runs, adding a RBI double in the fifth.
Seven of nine hitters had knocks for the Trojans, including Nick Foust (sacrifice fly in the second) and Sean Kasper (RBI single in fourth).
“For me to get a single and then come around to score, that was big to set the tone and get the team going,” Barrett said. “It was good that we were able to score early, but that we were also able to score pretty consistently throughout the game. Whenever they thought they had some momentum, we were able to stop it.”
Senior Grant Olson threw 3 2/3 innings for the Slicers, setting down three consecutive batters looking for all of his strikeouts to leave the bases loaded in the first inning. Walks continued to plague the southpaw, as he handed out five free passes, the same as last Wednesday against Lake Central.
“Last night with Anglin, he was throwing strikes and working quick and they looked like a totally different team,” Campbell said.
All five Chesterton runs were unearned with La Porte’s defensive miscues continuing to rear its ugly head with seven errors.
“It was like a giveaway day here,” La Porte coach Scott Upp said. “Between the ears, we weren’t ready to play, that’s all, that’s the bottom line. We hit ground balls to them every day, we throw every day, it’s a matter of whether you’re ready to play the game or not.
“We were not ready to play defensively – at all – and it shows. The score indicates how we mentally prepared ourselves. You see that first inning and then remind them that we’re here to play baseball and hope that those things go away. We actually played the last inning clean, the rest of them – not very clean.”
La Porte (10-6, 5-3) didn’t score until the seventh on a two-out error by Guernsey that allowed pinch-hitters AJ Mrozinske (HBP) and Keli Hay (single) to score. Kyle Bruemmer (single) scored on a Kade Flores double before Anglin's lineout sealed the deal.
Ben Dubbs was 2-for-4 out of the leadoff spot.
“It’s just disappointing,” Upp said. “You only get so many games to play. If you take this same approach later on in the season, like in tournament time, it’s gonna be a short postseason.
“The last three ball games have been tough. Last week with LC was tough with four errors and six walks, and the other day against Plymouth, we had two errors in the seventh, and we had a couple (Tuesday) in the seventh. I just hope we get it turned around. It’s not anything physical, that’s for sure.”