Meet the NCAA's most entertaining pitcher

June 9th, 2021

Stephen Schoch is not your average closer. And his team, the University of Virginia Cavaliers, is not your ordinary college baseball team. Virginia won its fourth straight elimination game Tuesday to advance to the NCAA Tournament Super Regionals, defeating No. 11 Old Dominion, 4-3, on Devin Ortiz's walk-off homer. Ortiz also started the game, throwing four scoreless innings and striking out six.

But back to Schoch, Virginia’s eccentric closer. The man has become an instant legend with his personality and antics on and off the mound. The right-hander has closed out two of Virginia’s four tournament wins so far, and after his 2 1/3-inning save against South Carolina on Sunday, which featured five strikeouts, Schoch absolutely launched his glove with an overhand throw upon getting the final out.

The move went viral on social media, but that was only the beginning of his rise to notoriety. After the game, ESPN interviewed Schoch, and it was … interesting.

“I heard a fan offered free Dippin’ Dots if I blew it, which -- the price of Dippin’ Dots with inflation is just unreal,” Schoch said when asked about his emotions entering the ninth inning. “For a brief moment, I thought, ‘Dippin’ Dots sound good.’ But also I thought in the back of my head, ‘If we win today and we win tonight, we’re gonna be here another day, and that’s more per diem, so that means I can buy my own Dippin’ Dots and be a winner.'”

Wow. And if that weren't enough, he was captured on TV punching himself on the head and biting his jersey after finishing an inning.

And his pickoff move? Devastating.

The pressures of being a closer in the NCAA tourney don’t seem to faze Schoch. And he has a very nuanced explanation for why.

“This is just a game,” Schoch said. “There’s gonna be way harder things in life than striking out the side or not walking somebody, so I don’t really get too caught up in all the jibber jabber and all the mean things people may say to me.

“I think I’m a cool guy. My dogs think I’m awesome. My teammates like me. And my friends like me. So I’m gonna attack and go win. Simple.”

Since he spoke those words, the number of people who like him has grown exponentially.