by Eric Kolenich
GLEN ALLEN, Va. -- Tanner Schobel led off the fifth inning with a line-drive double down the third base line. When his spot in the order came up again, the fifth inning hadn’t ended yet, six runs had scored and 10 batters had come to the plate.
In his second at-bat of the inning, he was walked with the bases loaded, scoring Lucas Bauer and giving the VA Seminoles (Mineral, VA) their 10th run of the game. The 10-run rule went into effect, the game was over, and the Seminoles had a shutout win over The Complete Player (Bowie, Md.) in the quarterfinals Saturday of the Pathway USBC Upperclass Championships at RF&P Park.
The Seminoles, the tournament’s top seed, will return to RF&P Park on Sunday at 8 a.m. to face cross-town rival Richmond Braves in the semifinals.
The Seminoles (5-0) have won three games by the mercy rule so far. Schobel was asked if this is just a team of good hitters.
“Good hitters, good everything, honestly,” he said.
After Schobel’s table-setting double to lead off the fifth, four straight batters recorded singles, and three of them brought home a run. Then Bauer hit a two-run double, putting the Seminoles ahead 9-0.
“It’s contagious,” said Schobel, a rising senior shortstop committed to Virginia Tech. “One person gets a hit, the energy goes up, and the next person does it.”
For Schobel, this summer is all about getting better. He said he’s working on shortening his swing, making it more compact and eliminating the big leg kick from his approach. Any good hits and games won are just icing on the cake.
Lead-off hitter Ty Swaim added two hits, a run and an RBI, and Tanner Thomas had two hits, two runs and an RBI.
Starting pitcher Max Moore, a rising senior committed to Mount St. Mary’s, threw all five innings, allowed three hits and struck out seven. Moore has emerged in the past year, Seminoles coach Donnie Phillips said, thanks to his willingness to put in hard work.
“He will be successful because of his work ethic,” Phillips said.
Moore is the kind of player who likes to show up and help out with the team even on days he isn’t pitching. He’s a 6-foot-3 lefty, commands a low-80s fastball and picked off a runner Saturday. His curve ball worked well for him, and he pounded the strike zone all five innings.
In the top of the fifth, Bauer made a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch in center field. TCP’s Jarod Mammano hit a shot to deep center field, and it looked like the ball would go over Bauer’s head. But Bauer raced toward the fence, put up his glove and caught the ball with his back toward home plate.
TCP’s Zach Saunders, who was standing at second base, took off when the ball was hit. When Bauer caught it, Saunders had no chance of tagging up. The Seminoles doubled him up at second base, even though the shortstop bobbled the catch and slowly tagged the bag.
Bauer’s catch saved a run, and the center fielder got a big hug from his coach when he returned to the dugout.
“I just put my head down and put my glove up,” Bauer said.
Wherever the Seminoles went Saturday, they went there quickly. The players sprinted on and off the field, they sprinted to first base on walks, and the catcher even sprinted to chase down foul balls that were near him.
Phillips tells his players to do everything 150 percent, because if a college coach is watching, he’s sure to notice.
“It’s the little things I’m big on,” Phillips said.
Phillips added that he’s seen coaches from almost every Division I college in the state at the Pathway tournament. This is the first year Phillips has brought a team to Pathway.
“This is a great event,” he said. “It’s recruited well.”