He didn’t get to coach his Flint Hill High School baseball team this spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic sports shutdown.
Missing the game terribly and needing a baseball fix, Tom Verbanic jumped at the chance to coach a team in the inaugural Northern Virginia College Baseball League. Play is scheduled to begin July 2.
Verbanic, Flint Hill’s head coach, will lead the Rough Riders during its planned one-month, 18-game regular season. The roster includes three of his former Flint Hill players now playing in college – Justin Taylor, Alex Walsh and O’Kelly McWilliams. They were chosen in the league’s draft.
“Getting those three was important, because I know them and I know their games,” Verbanic said. “The draft was crazy. But I think this team has a bunch of guys who want to play, love to play and play hard. That’s who we were looking for in the draft.”
When approached about coaching, Verbanic took about 30 seconds to say yes, adding his team would play at midnight or at 2 in the morning if need be.
“I think it will be a blast,” he said. “We’ll have to figure things out like pitching rotations and other things, because everyone is from different teams and probably do things a little differently. We’ll have to see how that goes.”
Pitcher/first baseman Jake Berry from Bishop O’Connell High School, Eric Lingebach from Oakton High, Ryan Murphy from Madison High and brothers Will and Nick Liverpool from McLean and O’Connell are other local players for the Rough Riders, which has a roster of 22, representing 20 different colleges.
Taylor plays for Cornell, Walsh at Lafayette, McWilliams at Wofford and Lingebach at Christopher Newport.
Verbanic was disappointed Flint Hill did not get to play its 2020 season.
“It was a young team that maybe would have had five sophomores playing a lot, but we had two good pitchers,” Verbanic said.
The team was scheduled to leave March 13 for its spring-break trip to Florida. That never happened because of the shutdown.