Lucas Tobin won’t soon forget his prolific week for the Red Bud High baseball team.
Tobin slugged four home runs in three games, including two in the second inning of an 8-2 victory over visiting Trico on Friday. In four games overall, he was 5-for-10 with seven RBIs.
Not too shabby for a 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior who has signed to play at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville – as a pitcher.
“I just found my right swing,” Tobin said. “Everything felt right and my mechanics felt good. Honestly, I don’t know how to explain it. It’s a great feeling, though.”
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Tobin’s power surge began with a home run Wednesday at Freeburg, a towering fly that carried well over the 385-foot mark in center field. Tobin connected again Thursday against visiting Dupo, a line drive over the wall in left-center.
Tobin, the son of Todd and Mindy Tobin, already had homered to left-center against Trico when he received another opportunity to hit later in the inning. He struck again.
“The second one just barely scraped over (the wall) in left field, right by the (foul) pole,” Tobin said. “I didn’t even know it was going out. I just hit the ball, put my head down and was running until I got past first base and my coach there, Jodie Fithian, said, ‘Hey, kid, it’s over.’ Then I just jogged it out.”
Tobin’s four-game streak lifted his average to a team-high .441 (26-for-59). Tobin also leads the Musketeers with five doubles, five home runs and 17 RBIs. He has two triples.
As a junior last season, Tobin batted .179 with no homers and 10 RBIs.
“He’s kind of humble about his hitting,” first-year Red Bud coach Dave Lucht said. “We knew he was a pitcher, but his hitting, he makes solid contact. Last week, he was really dialed in. He’s centered up on the ball and hitting it well.
“The leader board (for home runs) is maybe six or seven. You don’t see a lot of home runs out of a high-school kid. But to see two in one inning (by one player) was crazy. He’s a legit hitter. He makes solid contact, doesn’t strike out a lot and has good patience at the plate.”
Tobin, who also played football under Lucht as a wide receiver and cornerback, said he made an offseason commitment to improve his hitting.
“I hit by myself and with my dad. I credit a lot of it to him,” Tobin said. “But I also credit it to the St. Louis Prospects for helping me hitting-wise – and pitching.”
The Prospects, who help develop high-school players, are owned by former major-league pitchers Andy Benes. Benes pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals and three other teams.
Benes had this to say about Tobin: “Lucas has been everything the Prospects stand for in his time in our organization. He cares deeply, competes to the best of his ability and is an extremely hard worker. Lucas dedicated himself to training and had been determined to improve. That has landed him a college scholarship and we are so proud of him.”
Despite his hitting prowess, Tobin’s future is as a pitcher. The right-hander, whose fastball sits in the mid- to upper-80s, threw a six-inning no-hitter and struck out a season-high 10 on April 24 in a 10-0 victory at New Athens in a Cahokia Conference game. He was a dual threat in the game against Trico, striking out nine.
The no-hitter, Tobin said, ranks higher than the four-homer outburst.
“It was my No. 1 achievement in all my life,” he said. “It was a pretty big accomplishment for me and I’m really proud of my team for helping me with that.”
Overall, Tobin is 3-6 with a 2.73 ERA in nine starts. The Musketeers have scored seven runs in his losses and have been blanked three times.
Tobin has 34 walks and 43 strikeouts in 43 2/3 innings, but 19 of the bases on balls came in Tobin’s first three starts of the season against Du Quoin, Valmeyer and Columbia.
“He’s gotten a lot better since then,” Lucht said. “When he really gets to focus on the pitching end of it ... He’s got the tools. It’s going to be up to him what he does.”
Tobin said: “Baseball has always been my passion. I would like to go farther after SWIC. I would like to go to a D-I or D-II college to pitch. I’m going to work hard in the offseason and work hard during the season at SWIC.”