May 17, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

After season ends early, Uni star Jackson LoBianco focuses on better days ahead

University’s Jackson LoBianco is looking forward to his college career. (Photo courtesy University baseball)

University shortstop Jackson LoBianco wrapped up his high school baseball career sooner than he expected, but he’s looking forward to a promising career at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.

LoBianco, who also pitched in relief for the Trojans, signed his national letter of intent in the fall. He was a four-year starter with University and a captain this year.

“They actually contacted me and found some of my highlights, they’re a Division 2 school and something that was really important to me was finding an opportunity to start as a freshman and they said there was a high probability that’s possible and that meant a lot to me,” LoBianco said in a telephone interview last week.

“I wound up visiting the school and practicing with them and I really just fell in love with it. The kids were nice and I really felt it would be a great fit for me and after a couple weeks of talking it over with my parents, we decided it and called them and made the decision. It was very exciting. Maybe I can go there and try and get some innings (pitching) but primarily shortstop.”

LoBianco played a key role on this year’s University team which was off to a 3-2-1 start. He batted .421 with four RBI, two doubles, a home run, five stolen bases and an on-base percentage of .522. On the mound, LoBianco was 0-0 with two saves.

In January, LoBianco was among 500 high school players selected nationwide to compete in the Under Armour All American pre-season tournament at the Chicago Cubs spring training facility in Mesa, Arizona. LoBianco led all players with a 97 mph raw throwing velocity. 

 “He is the type of player you want around any program,” said University’s first year coach Steve Hindman. “He has a great work ethic and challenges the players around him to be better. He was just what this year’s team needed as an every day consistent player, as well as a great example for our young players.”

Hindman said he expects LoBianco to be an “impact player as a freshman at Shippensburg University next season. Jackson was a great teammate and is welcome back here to Uni whenever he wants.” 

LoBianco’s final season had started out well.

“I was off to a pretty good start, I was batting . 421,” he said. “Over the fall I hit a homer for the first time in my high school career. That was really fun. I got a couple saves on the mound but I think we would have really had a great year if it didn’t get cut short and I’m sure most of the other schools will tell you that too. I was off to a hot start and so were some of my teammates, so it’s really a bummer.”

Like many athletes throughout the county, LoBianco held out hope the season would resume.

“Initially when we found out we thought that is was just going to be about two weeks (suspended). Our coach was talking to us trying to find solutions among ourselves,” he said. “Initially, we were just prepping for when we would get back and hit the ground running, but found out over that two week period that it had been delayed even further and then eventually cancelled, which was really heartbreaking.”

LoBianco had set some goals going into the season.

“I really wanted to try and break some records,” he said. “Halfway through the season last year, I had hit .530 which was the highest mark recorded since we had a big leaguer Garrett Atkins a long time ago had hit .505 halfway through and I really wanted to go for it and try and kill it (the record) this year, but it’s undeniably heartbreaking and I’m just hoping I can get some redemption in college and I’ve been planning on that.”

LoBianco plans to stay in shape and get ready for the next chapter of his life.

“Fortunately, I have a lot of weights in my house and I’ve always done my own lifting and training on my own and any transformations I’ve made have really been through me so I’m really fortunate that my lifting routine and diet hasn’t had to take a huge hit,” he said. “Obviously, we’re not practicing with the team or getting live at bats in games. But I’m doing the best I can and I would say I’m in close to the best physical shape of my life and I’m really hoping that translates at the collegiate level.”

LoBianco said he has been able to communicate with his teammates, including Adam Axtell and Faraz Markazi, who were also seniors.

“Our team still has a group chat that we text in, everybody is really sad …. I’ve been in contact with most of our guys and we’re really just hoping we have one last opportunity to get together. Some of us have looked into summer leagues or other options, but I think our best bet is the Ryan Lemmon Showcase.”

The event is being planned for the first week of June, if organizers get clearance from state, health, county and city officials, according to Guy Lemmon, who is organizing the event.

“It’s been something we’ve all been looking forward to for these years,” LoBianco said. “I guess it’s just a waiting game and we have to wait for more information to come out.”

LoBianco said he is grateful for the coaches who have helped him throughout his career.

“I don’t think I could have done half of what I did without both my parents … financial, emotional support, they’re number one,” he said.

He said all the coaches he played for at Uni have “done so much for me. I wouldn’t have accomplished half of what I did without any of them and I’m just very thankful for every single one of them.”

LoBianco played for four different head coaches at University: Mike Gerakos, Kevin McCaffrey, Mike Thompson and Steve Hindman.

He said all the coaches he played for at Uni have “done so much for me. I wouldn’t have accomplished half of what I did without any of them and I’m just very thankful for every single one of them.

“Coach Gerakos, Kevin McCaffrey, Gregg Budgell,, Ryan Belanto, Justin Hallenbeck, Mike Thompson, Steve Hindman, my pitching Coach Kramer, and most importantly my hitting Coach Eric Berger.”

LoBianco is trying to look to the future while offering words of encouragement.

“Stay positive and things will go back to normal, they always do,” he said. “Thank you to anybody I didn’t mention. I’m so grateful for four years at Uni baseball and it’s been more than a blessing.”

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com