Baseball: Ryan Peter, Sam Couch power Joliet Catholic past Lincoln-Way North

Story Image JCA's Brock Pluth (7) tags out Lincoln-Way North's Corey Krupske (7) at Wednesday's game between Lincoln-Way North and Joliet Catholic Academy. | Paul Bergstrom ~ For Sun-Times Media
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Updated: July 18, 2012 6:23PM

Ryan Peter has found a new home in the Joliet Catholic batting order, and as a result, the Hilltoppers will face neighboring rival Joliet West at noon Thursday at Ed Flink Field for the Lockport Regional championship in the IHSBCA/Phil Lawler Classic summer state baseball tournament.

The leadoff man in the spring, Peter, a senior, has moved into the cleanup spot this summer. Playing his new role to the hilt, he cranked a three-run home run to left field in the bottom of the first inning off touted Lincoln-Way North right-hander Mike Miller as the third-seeded Hilltoppers (16-2) eliminated the defending summer state champions in Wednesday’s semifinal 5-1.

“It’s a little different going from leadoff to the 4-hole, but I’m taking it in stride,” said Peter, who also walked and singled. “It was good to get off to a good start; our offense and defense did the job.

“What really won it, though, was our pitching. (Right-hander Sam) Couch battled the whole time, and so did (right-hander Cal) Placher when he came in. Sam is quick to the plate and his ball moves a lot.”

Couch allowed an unearned run in six innings and Placher faced four batters in the seventh. Ira Hughes singled home two unearned insurance runs in the third to make life even more comfortable for Couch.

“Joliet Catholic played a perfect game,” North coach Joe Skarbek said. “Last year was great, it was magical. It was something we won’t forget. But it is about next spring, and I hope this game makes us a little hungrier.”

Voss noted that elements favored offense, yet North (16-3) managed four hits.

“Couch was excellent,” Voss said. “It’s tough to pitch on a warm day like this when hitters have been getting a lot of at-bats lately and have their timing.”

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