DOBSON — Sean Schendel had only been a member of the Surry Central varsity baseball team for a few days when he played in his most memorable game as a Golden Eagle.
On March 18, 2016, the left-handed relief pitcher made the third appearance of his varsity career, and it was a doozy — Schendel was charged with protecting a 4-3 lead over West Forsyth on the 4A powerhouse’s home field. Making the challenge even more daunting was that nine days earlier, in his varsity debut, the Titans had touched him for three runs off three hits and a walk in just one inning of what became a 10-0 Surry Central defeat.
The rematch went into extra innings after teammate Jed Kidd had held the Titans to three runs over seven innings of work. In the top of the eighth, Central pushed across a go-ahead run and then called on Schendel to hold the lead. He allowed a single and a walk, but refused to let West Forsyth score a run.
“Getting the save against West Forsyth, a 4A school, was probably the highlight,” Schendel said following his signing ceremony with Bluefield State (WV) College on Thursday afternoon in the lobby at Surry Central.
With that performance, Schendel had secured his niche on the Eagles for the next two seasons. He didn’t allow an earned run for the rest of the 2016 season; the three that the Titans scored on him in his varsity debut were all he surrendered. He appeared in nine more games, all an inning at a time, striking out 11 men over 10 innings of work.
In his senior season, a shortage of pitching forced Schendel into Central’s starting rotation at midseason, after he had made five appearances, including a save against Elkin on March 6 and a spot start against McMichael five days later, where he pitched three innings and allowed just one hit with four strikeouts. After a strong outing in relief against Mount Airy prior to spring break, where he allowed no earned runs in four innings, he drew four starts down the stretch, three of which were Central victories.
Schendel had always hoped to have the opportunity to play beyond high school, and received that opportunity when Bluefield State, a member both of NCAA Division II and the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA), came calling. The Big Blues reached the USCAA Small College World Series during the 2017 season.
“When I went up there, I was impressed with the program,” he said. “They treated all of their players well, and I really felt a bond between the coaches and the players, and that’s what really made my decision.”
In choosing Bluefield State, Schendel will have numerous opportunities to play close to home, as the Big Blues play most of the neighboring small colleges in the area, and even played two games in Mount Airy during the recently completed season. He said he didn’t consider playing for any other school.
He will pitch for Bluefield, which was also his main role with Central, and plans to enter the medical field after finishing college.
Reach John via Twitter at @johncate73.