After the month that Kaneland junior left-hander Drew Peters has been through, he needed a day like Thursday.
Peters found himself sidelined earlier this spring with a sprained ankle. Finally ready to return, Peters fell in the parking lot of a Buffalo Wild Wings and required 14 stitches to his head.
So needless to say Peters was glad to be back on the mound in the semifinals of the Class 3A Sycamore regional Thursday, and he responded by retiring all 15 batters in a 17-0 perfect game win over IMSA.
"It's been a bad month, I'm not going to lie, but this helps end it off," Peters said. "They (the injuries) were really tough because they weren't baseball related but I knew once I got back out here coach would let me have an opportunity and I needed to deliver and I did."
No. 2 seed Kaneland (20-10) will play No. 1 Sycamore for the regional title at 11 a.m. Saturday in a matchup of the longtime rivals. The teams met three times in conference play this year with the Spartans winning twice.
"It (the perfect game) feels great but Saturday is the big game," Peters said. "We have to collect ourselves. We know Saturday is the biggest game of our year."
Kaneland coach Brian Aversa said Peters has looked sharp in bullpen sessions since returning. Peters carried that over to the mound, striking out 2 batters in the first inning to get off to a good start.
Peters, who had tossed a pair of 1-hitters against Rochelle previously at the freshman and sophomore levels, continued rolling all afternoon. He finished with 10 strikeouts and retired three batters on comebackers.
The only two outs recorded by his teammates came on one groundball to shortstop Kyle Davidson and another grounder to second baseman Brian Dixon.
"We told him to come out and throw strikes, you can't walk guys," Aversa said. "If he does his job we'll get runs for him. We didn't expect for him to come out with a perfect game."
After a scoreless first inning, the Knights put the game away with a 10-run second inning. IMSA (6-13) dropped a line drive that fueled the rally. Dixon started the damage with an RBI single.
Corey Landers ripped a 2-run double to left field. After an RBI single from Bobby Thorson, Sam Komel blasted a 2-run triple to deep right center. Later, Dixon drove in another run for a 10-0 lead.
"The second inning our guys had a different approach and drove the ball on the first pitch and put it in play a lot better," Aversa said.
Kaneland added 5 runs in the third and 2 in the fourth, finishing with 17 runs on just 11 hits as IMSA hurt itself with 4 errors.
"The game of baseball you have to make plays," IMSA coach Renard Miller said. "The routine plays you have to make.
"This is my first time being no hit, perfect game. We have a lot of young guys. The commitment has to be there."
Komel went 3-for-3 with 4 RBI to lead Kaneland's offense. Drew French tripled twice, and Dixon also had 2 hits as the Knights avoided the same fate as last year when Hampshire surprised them in their regional opener.
And now Kaneland has its ace Thorson rested and ready to go Saturday.
"We had a businesslike attitude on the way over," Aversa said. " We got bit in the butt last year by Hampshire looking past somebody. Saturday is going to be a big game, we are excited for it."