With a 3-2 lead and a spot in the 2021 NCAA regional finals on the line, Virginia baseball had forced South Carolina to two outs left in the top of the seventh inning. As runners stood on first and third base, the Cavaliers needed one more out to get out of the jam after the Gamecocks had already notched a solo home run in the seventh inning to make it a one-run game.
Enter then-graduate student right-hander Stephen Schoch — known to many as BigDonkey47, his Twitter account handle. The outgoing, unique closer from Laurel, Md. struck out a batter to end the seventh, then proceeded to strike out four more runners over the last two innings, punching himself in the temple in the process of securing the victory.
After striking out the last Gamecock to seal the win, Schoch launched his glove toward the Virginia dugout and let out a ferocious roar. But Schoch’s inadvertent histrionics did not stop there. The interview following the win was where Schoch would become a household name overnight in the world of college baseball.
“I heard a fan offer free Dippin’ Dots if I blew [the game],” Schoch said. “The price of Dippin’ Dots with inflation is just unreal. For a brief moment, I was like, ‘d—n, Dippin’ Dots sound good.’”
Other tidbits from the post-game interview included Schoch’s confession that caves make him nervous and that he repeats three words to himself on the mound — “f—k,” “attack” and “win”.
Schoch would also go on to rave about his defense and comment on how “awesome” the rest of his Virginia teammates were. His gleeful personality shone through and the video exploded on social media, also garnering the attention of USAToday and The Washington Post among other news outlets.
Schoch’s interview came in between a double-header for the Cavaliers, so he did not see what was taking place on social media until five hours later.
“I had no idea any of it was happening,” Schoch said in an interview with The Cavalier Daily.
Even a month after the College World Series had ended, he again gained thousands of more followers overnight.
“I had all these followers and I had no idea what to talk about or what to tweet about,” Schoch said.
Schoch quickly realized that as a former player, he might as well start tweeting about college baseball — while viral sensations can come and go, his true passion for the game kept his followers growing and engaged.
His fervent presence on Twitter has now become a staple of the college baseball community, as he has amassed over 85,000 followers on the platform. He also hosts a college baseball podcast called “The Schoch Factor”, where he discusses everything college baseball. From previewing the conference landscapes to debating just how many ACC players have never seen the Atlantic Ocean, the podcast has it all.
Schoch now juggles his love for baseball with a nine-to-five real estate job. After moving from Charlottesville to North Carolina post-graduation, Shoch now lives in Delaware but has continued to stay active on Twitter in the college baseball community.
His tweets come from every corner of the college baseball universe — if it is unique, Schoch is likely to post it and try to share it with a wider audience. From posting seven-foot-two umpires to dazzling highlights of teams you have never heard of like Northeast Mississippi Community College, Schoch has it covered.
He specifically wants to bring attention to the discrepancies in college baseball in hopes of growing the sport — he said college baseball is often overshadowed by other mainstream college sports like football and basketball.
“As long as we put a little bit of money into [baseball] and a little bit more effort, more people will see it,” Schoch said. “More people will want to be involved with it, and it’s just going to be better as a whole.”
Schoch does not use Twitter for his own gains, though —– in fact, it is the opposite. As the transfer portal heated up in the college sports world this past summer, Schoch would consistently post videos of player highlights in efforts to expose them to coaches and scouts on the platform in hopes of helping their transfer efforts.
“I know how hard it is to get seen by college coaches,” Schoch said. “It’s not easy. I had to spend three years at two different schools just to get seen by the college coaches I wanted to be seen by… My initial thought was just get these guys seen, help them out.”
Much to Schoch’s surprise, around 15 of the players whose videos he posted on his account followed up, sending him direct messages on Twitter and explaining how they ended up being recruited after coaches saw their videos.
“I did not expect anything like that major, but it really just inspired me…people might charge for this service but I can do it for free. It’s free to do and it’s a good thing to do so why not?”
Schoch also often posts when teams’ travel plans go awry — take for example Iowa Central, whose bus broke down. Schoch posted a video about how they borrowed a high school wrestling team’s bus to make it to their game. Through this sort of content, Schoch shows that the joy of college baseball is not only found in home runs and walk-offs, but also in the everyday events that define smaller college sports.
Schoch has plans to return to Charlottesville this spring, as the Cavalier baseball team has drawn national preseason attention. He recently predicted Virginia as one of the schools that will make a trip to Omaha come College World Series time on his podcast. Additionally, Schoch placed junior catcher Kyle Teel at the top of his preseason rankings at the position. However, he does not exactly know when fans should expect his return to Charlottesville.
“I’ll be there at some point,” Schoch said. “It’s just very spur of the moment.”
Whether or not this year’s squad will be able to recapture the magic of that 2021 run — or even top it — it can be assured that Schoch will be emphatically supporting and promoting Virginia’s baseball team along the way from the stands or online in his quest to legitimize college baseball on a national level.