Maybe there is a secret to turning Cardinal Gibbons’ hot-hitting Robbie Thorburn into an easy out.
Just get a submarining left-hander on the mound.
That turned out to be the magic bullet for visiting Union Pines on Thursday, as Seth Breasseale easily retired Thorburn on a bouncer to first to lead off the Cardinals’ first inning and end the left-hitting junior second baseman’s hitting streak at 14.
Not 14 games, 14 at-bats over 16 plate appearances. Nearly impossible stuff.
So maybe Thorburn wasn’t quite able to break the state record, which he’ll share with Kevin Jordan of Jordan-Matthews, who had a similar 14-for-14 streak 15 seasons ago.
But he and the Crusaders did get the last laugh, as his three-run homer in the third – his second of the season – was the biggest blow in a 10-0 romp ended after 4 ½ innings. The result completed a two-game sweep of the non-conference series.
Coach Jim Liebler and a few others in the Gibbons athletic department were aware of the record, but Thorburn and his teammates were kept in the dark on the matter.
“I didn’t know about it before the game,” said Thorburn, who in the fall committed to UNC Wilmington where he already has some close family ties. “I just knew I was hot. I reached on errors against (Breasseale) before, but he’s got my number, I guess.
“I think the best thing I’ve done is hit early in the count. I haven’t seen many off-speed pitches. I was just jumping on fastballs and the ball has been looking like a grapefruit.”
The national record is 22 by Pat Simmons of Bradley-Bourbonnais, Ill., completed in 1982, and nobody else ever had more than 17. Only 12 high schoolers have ever reached 16, and after Thorburn and Jordan, only three other North Carolinians – including Gastonia’s Wes Helms who played for the 1996 Durham Bulls – have reached 11.
Thorburn accomplished the feat in 16 plate appearances, with five doubles, a triple and a homer with three RBI. He was hit by a pitch and drew a walk during the streak.