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Proving his point

Working to impress coaches pays off as Robinson signs to play baseball at USC-Lancaster

Posted: January 4, 2016 10:35 a.m.
Updated: January 5, 2016 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I photo/

L-E’S BROCK ROBINSON SIGNED a National Letter of Intent to continue his academic and baseball-playing endeavors at USC-Lancaster while flanked by his parents, Lynne and Jeff Robinson. Standing, from left, are Lugoff-Elgin athletics director Matt Campbell, L-E head baseball coach Randy Stokes, Robinson’s older brother and former L-E and USC-Lancaster infielder, Ty Robinson, and L-E principal Worth Thomasson.

When Lugoff-Elgin needed someone to play second base, head baseball coach Randy Stokes could insert Brock Robinson’s name onto the scorecard. Need a third baseman, a right fielder, a pitcher or, how about someone to man the popcorn machine in the concession stand? Brock Robinson is your man.

That has been the way things have been for the Demon senior who is the team’s version of a Swiss Army Knife.

While Robinson’s talents to play virtually any spot in the field have come in handy for Stokes, it was not until last summer that USC-Lancaster head baseball coach Steve Williams took a closer look at Robinson, who will play his fifth varsity season of baseball at L-E this coming spring.

Having taken in a few of Robinson’s summer travel league baseball games, the Lancers’ boss extended Robinson an offer to join the junio college program. Last Monday, Robinson, decked out in a navy blazer, signed a National Letter of Intent with USC-Lancaster in a ceremony held inside L-E’s Wellness Center.

“(Williams) saw me play with the Evoshield Canes last season before I got injured and he gave me a shot and now, we’re going to do it,” Robinson said.

For Robinson, signing day gave him another reason to smile other than it being the final week of school before the Christmas holiday break.

“It’s a big relief,” the 5-foot-10, 165-pounder said with a grin creasing his face after making his earlier commitment official.

“There’s a lot of pressure lifted off my shoulders because I pressed a lot last year and the year before because I just wanted to be recruited. Then, it finally happened … it’s an amazing feeling.”

Once interest was shown on Williams’ part, it was Robinson’s move. He made a visit to the USC-Lancaster campus. It was more of a get to know Williams and the program better trip since Robinson knew of the school from his brother Ty, a former L-E player who went on to play at USC-Lancaster. The younger Robinson liked what he saw and heard and gave a verbal commitment to Williams.

“The reason I chose USC-Lancaster is that they gave me the best opportunity,” he said. “Coach Williams is a pitching guru. It’s the best fit for me and he is giving me the opportunity to play both ways. He told me they can use me at middle infield, third base, as a corner outfield and to pitch.”

 With the formalities over and everything official, now comes the hard part for Williams who will have to try and find a place to play his newest signee. That should not be too difficult a task for the veteran skipper who was a successful high school coach at Lexington for years before trying his hand at the college game.

Stokes said Robinson is a rarity in an era of specialization in baseball.

“Brock’s very versatile; he can play a lot of places,” said the L-E head coach. “He’s good on the mound and he has played in the infield and in the outfield for us. He’s had a bunch of different roles in his time here. I think that is a good thing for a college team to have a guy with that kind of versatility and being able to open your options to play him in other places on the field.”

At no time was Robinson’s versatility appreciated more by his coaches and fellow Demon players than in last year’s Carolina Ale House Classic pre-season tournament. Playing four games in six days, Stokes was forced to stretch out a pitching staff which was on pitch counts. All Robinson did was to come out of the bullpen on three occasions and pick up three victories in helping L-E to the tourney crown.

A right-hander who traditionally threw over the top, Robinson changed his delivery to a three-quarters/sidearm motion prior to his junior campaign. The move paid off for him and the Demons.

“Brock has dropped down to a sidearm style now and that has created a lot of movement on his pitches,” Stokes said of the benefits reaped by Robinson since going to a new look on the mound. “In college, his key is going to be developing a pitch other than the fastball. Whether that will be a slider or a curveball, he’s going to need more than one pitch. He’s throwing those pitches now but they need to be improved for him to be successful at the next level.”

Working under Williams and adding muscle to his frame, Stokes said, will prove beneficial for Robinson. “I think that Brock is going to get bigger and stronger in college and Coach Williams is a great pitching coach who has been around a long time. I learned a lot from him a while back,” said the Coastal Carolina Hall of Fame pitcher and former Detroit Tigers’ minor league right-hander.

Robinson said he expects to add 15 pounds once with the Lancers. The added weight, he said, will not only help his velocity on the mound but also with his production at the plate, as well.

“The talent,” Robinson answered when asked the most dramatic change he will see in college baseball as a pitcher. “They are going to be able to swing it a little bit. They’re going to hit the balls a lot harder than in high school and the pitching is going to be a lot better. The longer games are also going to take a toll on your body so, you have to stay healthy.”

At the plate, seeing and adjusting to better pitching, Robinson said, will be the biggest on-field challenge at the next level. “It’s going to be tough,” he said. “Pitchers are going to be more seasoned, more mature, have more velocity on their fastball and good breaking stuff. It will be a challenge.”

A change will also occur away from the diamond as Robinson said he must keep up with his studies while making sure his body can withstand the grind of 50-plus, nine-inning games in the spring to go along with fall baseball workouts and games. 

Stokes believes Robinson’s love for the game, his work ethic and talent will be a combination which will serve him well in college and beyond.

“Brock has been in our program for a long time and he has been on the varsity since the eighth grade,” Stokes said. “He’s a good kid who has always had his priorities in line. He’s a hard worker and a kid of tremendous character. I feel that he will be successful at the next level.”

Playing college baseball is something which Robinson has dreamed about for as long as he can remember. When he was playing travel baseball with the Downtown Tigers at the age of 10, his team won the World Series for their age group in Myrtle Beach. He would play on two more World Series champions the following two summers.

“That was a blast … it was something I’ll always remember,” he said with a smile when reminded of the early days of his baseball career.

“It’s definitely a blessing to be able to win some championships and then, finally come up here and sign my name to a college letter of intent. It’s fantastic.”


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