Tanner Chock remembers when Loris baseball was a near-forgotten entity.
The Lions had their share of relatively successful seasons, and several former players went on to continue their careers in the college ranks. But for some time, the team didn’t have that memorable year, the type of season that would make those across the state pay attention.
The Toast of the Coast Baseball Player of the Year set out to change that mentality.
“Growing up, through middle school and the first two years of high school, Loris wasn’t getting much respect,” Chock said. “We were ranked low in the polls. Then this year, we were ranked low again. We had to prove ourselves.”
The hard-throwing righty led his teammates to the school’s second appearance in the state finals. Even though Loris lost to Ninety Six in the three-game series, Chock and the rest of the Lions had made their mark.
After missing the playoffs his freshman season and being eliminated in districts during his sophomore year, he pushed the team to the Lower State finals in 2013 before going a step further this spring. Chock was every bit of the workhorse coach Keith Daniels hoped he would be.
Chock finished 11-1 with a 0.50 ERA and 124 strikeouts in 84 innings. The Presbyterian signee, though, did as much for his team mentally as he did physically.
“When he was on the mound, the players had a different approach to the game, and that was that they knew that they were going to win,” Daniels, who resigned after the season, said in an email. “The team knew that if they scored at least one run with Chock on the mound that he would finish the game.”
Outside of final game of the state finals - a game that was postponed midway through for four days due to weather - that’s what Chock did more often than not. Some of his biggest performances came in that historic postseason run.
Of his 10 complete games, five came in the playoffs, including a nine-inning gem against Ninety Six in Loris’ Game 1 victory in the state finals. The Wildcats went on to win the next two and earn the state championship.
But that didn’t stop Chock’s successful season from being noticed. He was named the Class AA Player of the Year by the South Carolina Baseball Coaches Association and to the North-South All-Star baseball roster.
It was a pair of considerable honors. Yet, he said they paled in comparison to what he was able to help the Lions accomplish.
“It’s a good way to end your career,” he said. “We had a lot of seniors. We leave Loris baseball in a good name right now.”
Contact IAN GUERIN at email@example.com.