May 14, 2014
By Sean Brennan
Special to BIGEAST.com
In our latest installment of “Touching Base,” we found Creighton’s stud junior Jake Peter trapped on a 12-hour bus ride to Cincinnati where the Bluejays will face Xavier starting Thursday. So given the choice of viewing strip malls and farms out his window or chatting with us, he chose to chat with us.
So Jake filled us in on the reasons why he was lightly recruited out of high school after a record-setting career at Mason City High School in Iowa, why he’ll take second base over pitching any day, why he resides in the best hitting slot on the team in the No. 3 hole, what he accomplished last weekend that no other BIG EAST player could this season and why a BIG EAST title would mean so much to the Bluejays program.
BIGEAST.com: Jake, how cool is it to hold just about every major offensive record back at Mason City High School, including most hits, doubles, homers, RBI, runs scored and saves?
PETER: “It’s definitely very humbling. You look back at the history of all the great players at our high school, and to be ahead of those guys in those categories is really something. I had four years to do it compared to some of those other guys who only had three years to do it. But it is definitely a very humbling honor to have.”
BIGEAST.com: How highly recruited were you out of high school?
PETER: “I wasn’t very highly recruited at all. Creighton was by far my best offer. I had smaller schools contact me and a lot of JUCOs, but playing in Iowa and playing summer baseball there, it’s kind of hard to get the exposure like some other kids do. So I wasn’t really highly recruited.”
BIGEAST.com: Was Creighton the only Division I school to offer you or were there others?
PETER: “Yeah, Creighton was probably one of maybe three or four Division I schools but they were by far the best school and the best baseball program to offer me. And obviously the education here is just great so it was a pretty easy decision for me to come here.”
Jake, you’ve been ranked either first or second in all the key offensive categories on the Bluejays the past two seasons. Some players are natural born hitters while others put in a lot of time in on their game. Which category do you fall into?
PETER: “I would say all through high school is when I worked a lot on my game and I really developed as a hitter. But I think coming here to Creighton and working with my hitting coach, Coach (Spencer) Allen, he’s really helped me tweak some things and become a better hitter. I think year by year I try to perfect something and get a little better in some areas. There are definitely some things to work on but every year I just try to get a little bit better.”
BIGEAST.com: Moving over to your defense, you have just six errors combined over the past two seasons. Do you take as much pride in your defense as your offense?
PETER: “Oh yeah, coming to Creighton that’s what you have to do. You’ve got to be able to field and catch the baseball. That’s from Day One when you come on campus. Coach (Ed) Servais has worked with all of us infielders. We work on defense for an hour almost every day in practice so it’s something we definitely stress here. It’s kind of hard not to be good at defense here.”
BIGEAST.com: You’re a second baseman by trade but you’ve also handled some pitching duties for the Bluejays the past two seasons. Which do you prefer or do you like both?
PETER: “I definitely prefer second base over pitching but I like pitching, too. I like being in the late-inning closer role but if I had a preference it would definitely be second base over pitching. I like playing in every game, being involved in every game. When I can pitch that’s always fun, too. But I definitely like being in the middle of every game.”
BIGEAST.com: I see you were a finalist for the John Olerud Award (for Best Two-Way Player) and a semifinalist for the Gregg Olson Award (for Best Breakout Player) last season. What does it mean for you to get that kind of recognition for your play?
PETER: “I think it’s great for Creighton. Obviously we’re a good baseball program here in the Midwest so to add that kind of recognition to our program is a great thing. And to be on a list like that, it’s hard to get on it, but I think it just shows all the hard work we’re putting in here at Creighton, the effort that we put forth here.”
BIGEAST.com: You hit in a lineup where you have Brad McKewon and Ryan Fitzgerald hitting in front of you with (Preseason Player of the Year pick) Mike Gerber and Reagan Fowler stacked up behind you. How fun is it for you to be sitting in that No. 3 hole in this lineup?
PETER: “It’s fun and it’s easy. We have guys one through nine that are capable of getting big hits. The way Mike is swinging it right now, he’s definitely fun to hit in front of and Brad is a great leadoff hitter and Fitz is a great two-hole guy and Reagan is one of the best hitters in the conference. So it’s really fun to hit in that lineup.”
BIGEAST.com: Last week you became the first player in the BIG EAST to get to St. John’s closer Joe Kuzia, who had not allowed an earned run this season up to the point where you hit a three-run homer off him in a win over the Johnnies last Saturday. What did you think of that accomplishment and did you know of his dominance coming into the game?
PETER: “Yeah we talked about him not giving up an earned run all year and he actually got me to fly out in Friday night’s game. So I had seen him earlier in the weekend so I was just looking for a good pitch to hit and I was able to get to it and it was a big hit at the right time. He threw me a fastball. He started me off with a curveball so it was a 1-0 count and I was sitting on a fastball and fortunately I got to it.”
BIGEAST.com: Did the moment feel even bigger because it came against arguably the best closer in the BIG EAST?
PETER: “Yeah absolutely. Facing a guy like that you have to put together one of your better at bats. You have to be completely focused and in a situation like that, top of the ninth inning and down by a run, it was definitely one of my better at bats and it worked out.”
BIGEAST.com: With the draft less about three weeks away, have you heard any buzz regarding you or do not want to think about that now while the season is still going?
PETER: “There’s been a little bit of buzz here and there but I’m trying to keep that separate from the season. Trying to win the BIG EAST championship is something me and my teammates are focused on right now. So if the draft works out the way I hope it does, then that’s fine. But right now we’re just focused on winning a championship.”
BIGEAST.com: Creighton is going into the final weekend of the regular season in first place with a one-game lead over St. John’s. What would it mean to win the conference title in your first season in the BIG EAST?
PETER: “It would be huge. We’ve been talking about this ever since the fall and if we end up winning the BIG EAST championship we’d be the first Creighton team (in any sport) to do it. So it’s something we’ve worked hard for and we know it’s not going to come easy. We have a tough series at Xavier this weekend. They’re going to play hard and we’re going to play hard right back. So it should be a fun weekend, it will be competitive and we’re looking forward to it.”