With a 1-2 count in the bottom of the 9th, Virginia relief pitcher Stephen Schoch looked to catcher Kyle Teel. Schoch had walked the first batter in the inning before striking out the next two. Holding on to a 3-2 lead over the hosting South Carolina Gamecocks, Virginia needed a win to keep their season alive. He wound up, releasing the pitch that USC first baseman Joe Satterfield would completely miss en route to Schoch’s fifth strikeout in 2.1 innings.
Schoch, a graduate student that transferred from UMBC before the 2020 season, stepped off the mound with his familiar strut. As he’s done before, he emphatically threw his glove towards UVA’s dugout before letting out some primal shouts of excitement as his teammates swarmed him.
With the win, Virginia would have a chance to face No. 1-seed ODU in Sunday night’s nightcap, a game the Hoos won to force a decisive Game 7 against the Monarchs thanks to more outstanding pitching from Griff McGarry and Brandon Neeck. Although the Cavalier bats have been solid, the pitching has been the story this weekend. Matt Wyatt got the start in the elimination game against the Gamecocks, going five innings and striking out eight. Blake Bales and Zach Messinger bridged the gap before Schoch entered the game in seventh.
For as good as Schoch was on the mound, his postgame interview with commentators Mike Monaco and Gaby Sanchez might have been even better. Schoch’s personality shines through, delivering an absolutely golden interview that has been viewed on the ACC Network’s Twitter account over 575,000 times.
When asked if anything made him nervous, Schoch paused for a moment before simply stating, “Caves, mainly.” As Sanchez cackled, Schoch elaborated. “I don’t see any caves out here. We’re in the South, not the desert. That’s where I find most caves are probably at. But, this is just a game. There’s going to be way harder things in life than striking out the side or walking somebody. I don’t really get caught up in all the jibber jabber.”
Schoch balances humor with insight, but his take on his life is actually one that more people should probably adopt. “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 going to attack, and I’m going to win. It’s simple.”
After that interview started popping off, the ACC Network shared more gems from it on their Instagram account. It somehow got even better than the caves and Kenny Powers comparisons. Apparently during his save, a savvy South Carolina fan proposed a very sweet offer to Schoch if he let the Gamecocks win.
“I heard a fan offer free Dippin’ Dots if I blew it, which the price of Dippin’ Dots with inflation is just unreal,” Schoch said with a straight face as Monaco and Sanchez laughed loudly. “For a brief moment I was like, ‘Damn, Dippin’ Dots sound good,’ but also I in the back of my head I thought if we win today...win tonight, we’re going to be here another day. That’s more per diem, so that means I can buy my own Dippin’ Dots and be a winner.”
“You walk into a stadium...8,000 people they all want you to lose. As long as you’ve got your 26 guys ready to kick a— or, kick butt, you’re going to be alright,” Schoch said, catching himself mid-curse as the interviewers continued cracking up. “Sorry I sweared,” Schoch added with a smile.
Virginia will need all 26 guys ready to kick ass tonight as the Hoos look to do something never done before in program history: win a regional after losing the opening game. The Hoos and Monarchs square off at 7pm on ESPNU.