On Sunday, freshman Dillon Peters received the first weekend start of his short colligate career, and it did not go well. In only one inning of work, he allowed two runs and couldn’t make it through the lineup once, facing only eight batters.
The weekend games are tough, there is more pressure and all the Big 12 opponents — even weaker hitting lineups such as Kansas — present a challenge each and every game, and Peters found that out the hard way.
“[Peters] found the air to be a little bit thinner on game day in a Big 12 conference game that you must win versus a Tuesday game,” said head coach Augie Garrido after Sunday’s game.
However, he was given the opportunity to quickly make up for his forgettable outing. He was given the opportunity to start just two days later against Central Arkansas. This time, he had no trouble breathing out on the mound, and gave one of the best performances of his young career.
Peters didn’t give up an earned run and only allowed two hits in three and two-thirds innings of work, the longest outing of his career, before he was replaced by Austin Dicharry for a more favorable righty-on-righty matchup.
“The difference between today and Sunday is that on Sunday I just didn’t have my A game that I thought had been bringing for a while,” Peters said. “It happens though, and I moved on. I came back today and just trusted my stuff and tried to do what I had been doing all season, and it worked out for the best.
Before his exit in the fourth, he looked considerably more comfortable on the mound than he did on his Sunday afternoon start against the Jayhawks. In that game, he struggled to hit his spots and had real difficulty throwing strikes as a result, as only 13 out of his 29 pitches found the strike zone.
But Tuesday evening, Peters was pounding the ball in his catcher’s mitt, hitting his spots and causing the Bears’ hitters to either strikeout or make weak contact with the ball. Peters retired 11 out of the 13 batters he faced and was able to do it on only 40 pitches, 29 of which went for strikes. The two hitters that did manage to reach on singles did so on weakly hit fly balls that just managed to drop in front of outfielders.
“I struggled on Sunday in all aspects, and you’re going to have days like that,” Peters said. “A pitcher [is] not going to have a perfect game every day and you just have to learn from it and move on, and I was able to do that tonight.”
The way Peters responded impressed his teammates and his coaches, because it takes a really tough player to come back from a terrible start and still have the mentality to go out and attack hitters.
“You never know how someone will respond,” Garrido said. “I like to look at a pitcher after he’s given up a home run and [see] what he’s going to do with the next pitch. If he’s going to attack the hitter with no fear, you know you have somebody that’s pretty special and that’s kind of what this was on a grander scale.”
Peters’ strong start has put him back into the mix for another shot at the Sunday slot this weekend, according to Garrido. However, he needs to be ready, because if he does get the ball against Texas A&M this it will be the most important and most difficult game in his time in the orange and white.
But if Peters does get the ball, he will just have to bring the same strike throwing approach to the mound, along with his “A” game, and if he does that, he should find the air quality out on the field to be quite hospitable to him.