AURORA | Strikeouts are nothing new to David Peterson, but few have likely been as satisfying as the one he got Thursday.

Six weeks and a day after undergoing surgery for a fractured fibula — which put his entire senior season in jeopardy — the Regis Jesuit ace left-handed pitcher took the mound and whiffed Ponderosa’s Kian Kagan to open the fifth inning of the Raiders’ 8-1 Continental League victory.

The University of Oregon signee did his best to be a supportive teammate in the first month and a half of the season, but he was thrilled to contribute on the field and it spilled out after his first varsity strikeout since last May.

“It was nice; I struck the first guy out and I had to turn around because I had a pretty big smile on my face,” Peterson said after completing a scoreless inning in the eighth straight victory for Regis Jesuit (11-3 overall, 6-0 in Continental League).

“It was nothing but joy; it was great to look back and see all my teammates behind me again,” he added.

Regis Jesuit coach Matt Darr took advantage of the chance to get Peterson on the field earlier than expected.

“Getting David back is a huge shot in the arm emotionally,” Darr said. “We were hoping next week we’d try to get him into a game, but he felt great today and we were thinking if there was a good opportunity — a no-pressure situation — we wanted to get him an inning.”

Thanks to a six-run first inning outburst by the offense and four scoreless innings from junior right-handed starter Brent Schwarz, one of the pitchers who have carried the load with Peterson out, such a no-pressure occasion presented itself.

With an 8-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning, Darr gave Peterson the ball and he proceeded to strike out Kagan, coax a flyball to left field from Eric Tokuyma and finish the frame with another strikeout of Bryan King.

Peterson — who is 15-6 in his Regis Jesuit career and went 4-2 with a 1.60 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings as a junior — never doubted he would play this season, even after the March 5 surgery he had to repair a fibula fractured in two places.

“I always planned on getting back. I looked at the calendar and six weeks from surgery was yesterday. I got cleared the seventh and just starting making my way back, but I never really thought I’d be out for the entire season.”

Darr, who is in his first season with the team, is thrilled to have Peterson available and plans to use him as a reliever primarily, but will start him again if the arm strength builds back up.

“We’ve been playing well without him, but I think everybody was just excited today for him as a kid,” Darr said. “There was a time when I think we all thought he might not be back, so it was cool to see everybody’s reaction when he came out.

“There were a lot of hugs and you could see the relief that he’s going to be able to play his senior season.”

Schwarz was among the teammates inspired by Peterson’s return to the team.

“We’re not surprised, but I don’t know if we expected David back this early,” Schwarz said. “He’s just so confident and such a bulldog out there. We’re excited to have him back.”

Peterson’s return comes at a time when his team is one of two unbeaten teams in the Continental League with five games remaining. The Raiders face defending 5A state champion ThunderRidge and current co-league leader Mountain Vista in that span.

But with Peterson on the shelf, the Regis Jesuit pitching staff more than rose to the occasion.

Schwarz picked up his fifth win of the season against no defeats with his four scoreless innings against Ponderosa, lowering his ERA from an already stellar 2.85 mark coming into the game.

Senior starters Zach Heath (2-0, 2.25 ERA) and lefty Reagan Todd (2-2, 4.27 ERA) and senior relievers Zach Woodruff (1-0, 0.95 ERA) and Justin Thaxton (1.56 ERA) more than picked up the slack on the mound.

Schwarz felt good about his performance and the rest of the staff, which he said is made easier by Regis Jesuit’s strong roster.

“With the defense we have and lineup we have hitting, we’re always going to put up runs, so there’s not really a worry there,” he said. “I’m just trying to stay calm and within myself, so I just need to keep throwing strikes and I know they’ll pick me up. I just need to give us a chance to win and we’ll pull it out.”

Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel


Score by innings:

Ponderosa   000 001 0 — 1

Regis Jesuit 602 000 x — 8

WP — Regis Jesuit: Brent Schwarz (4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K)

Courtney Oakes is sports Editor and photographer with Sentinel Colorado. A Denver East High School alum. He came to the Sentinel in 2001 and since then has received a number of professional awards from...