Baseball tandem splitting for college
Few high school coaches have the good fortune to score a pitcher-catcher duo like this.
So it’s easy to understand how much Bishop Manogue skipper Charles Oppio will miss departing baseball studs Casey Schapper and Tim Lewis.
“Both stepped up when the lights were on … I’m going to miss them a lot, and more than just baseball,” the coach said of his standout seniors. “They’re both great kids.”
Schapper, who lives in Truckee, and Lewis, from Kings Beach, were the focus of a school assembly Wednesday when they signed their national letters of intent. Lewis received an athletic and academic scholarship to play at Regis University in Denver, while Schapper is headed to UC Santa Barbara on an athletic scholarship.
“I’m very excited,” said Lewis, son of Old Brockway Golf Course owner Lane Lewis. “It’s always been my dream to play in college.”
Both Lewis and Schapper were three-year varsity starters for the Miners ” Lewis a cleanup-hitting catcher and Schapper the team’s No. 1 starter and fifth hitter. Both were voted to the 4A All-Sierra League first team this year, further fattening their string of accolades from past seasons.
Oppio described Lewis as a gritty player and natural leader with sound defensive skills. Schapper, at 6-2 and 220 pounds, is a big-game pitcher with a mean repertoire of pitches, Oppio said. Both players can flat-out hit, the coach added.
“I love Tim. He’s a real team leader, an old-school-type player,” Oppio said. “He played hard, played hurt. He got a lot of bumps and bruises the past few years. He’s one of my favorite kids I’ve ever had.”
About Schapper: “Casey was our No. 1 guy on the mound,” Oppio said. “He’s a big kid who throws hard and has a good curve. And he knows how to pitch. He doesn’t nibble; he goes right after people.”
Despite an injury that sidelined him for about a month, Schapper finished his senior season with a 6-2 record and a 1.94 ERA. He had nine walks and 62 strikeouts in 47 innings, six complete games, two shutouts and one no-hitter ” the type of stuff that captures the attention of a college coach.
“We liked his complete package,” said UC Santa Barbara head coach Bob Brontsema, who first saw Schapper throw at a November camp. “He has great poise and his stuff is equally as good. He has command of his fastball and he throws his secondary pitches for strikes.
“It was his command and presence that made us take a deeper look and research what type of kid he is. With his character, we thought he’d be a good kid for our program.”
And while Schapper impressed the coach from the mound, his offensive numbers were just as prodigious, with a .433 batting average, six doubles, four home runs, 32 RBIs and a .519 on-base percentage. He hit .455 in the postseason.
Lewis, who can man the catcher position with the best of them, was recruited in large part because of his bat, said Dan McDermott, head coach at Regis University.
Lewis posted a .404 average and .491 on-base percentage, with 10 doubles, four home runs and 36 RBIs during the regular season. Like his teammate and friend, Lewis swung an even hotter bat in the postseason, hitting .462 and driving in eight runs in four games.
But it’s his attitude and reputation as a team player that stood out to McDermott.
“He comes highly recommended by a couple of coaches I know and trust,” McDermott said, tossing out the names Tom Wheeler (a scout with the Milwaukee Brewers) and Al Endriss (a member of the American Baseball Coaches’ Hall of Fame).
“… With Timmy, what really sets him apart is the way he goes about the game. He plays the game with a lot of love and passion. And when you have respect for the game, you’re there for the right reason. I think he’s going to be really good for us.”
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