Valley News Dispatch Baseball All-Stars: Deer Lakes' Zach Lubick gets top honor
Always bigger than his peers growing up, Zach Lubick insists he never terrorized any smaller kids.
“I like to consider myself a gentle giant,” Lubick said.
When it comes to baseball, however, the Deer Lakes senior picks on people of all sizes.
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Lubick was an intimidator on the mound and at the plate this season. He struck out 73 batters in 53 2⁄3 innings, leading the Lancers to the WPIAL Class 4A quarterfinals, and hit .455 with nine doubles, two homers and 21 RBIs.
“It's definitely an advantage, going up knowing I was the biggest kid out there and knowing pitching my height affects the angle on the ball and the deception,” said Lubick, a Virginia Wesleyan recruit.
In the postseason alone, Lubick allowed just four runs in 19 innings, striking out 24, leading Deer Lakes to its first semifinal appearance since 2014.
So when sizing up the field, it made sense to tab Lubick as big man on campus — or Valley News Dispatch Player of the Year. He edged Freeport's James Flemm in one of the narrowest races to become Deer Lakes' first Player of the Year since Mark Wesolek in 2011.
How do you feel about the way the season went?
The way it ended was a little disappointing, but I thought we made it farther than people thought we would, so I was happy with that.
What was the playoff run like?
We were just trying to win each game. Whenever we got to Blackhawk (in the semifinals), it was tough to lose, but we knew we had another game. Going against Hopewell (in the consolation game), getting no-hit, that's always tough.
How was it to pitch in that Hopewell game (a 1-0 loss)?
I was excited to pitch. I knew my team would have my back defensively. Joey Rock just had better stuff that day.
What sticks out the most about this Deer Lakes team?
I'd have to say how close we were. I thought this was probably the closest team I've ever been on, definitely the closest that I've been on at Deer Lakes. We liked each other, we got along, and I feel that really helped on the field.
Any examples of your team chemistry?
We would go out to eat together. We'd go to Buffalo Wild Wings on Thursdays because that was their wing night. We would hang out at people's houses. We just enjoyed spending time together.
What's your go-to wing sauce?
Bone-in or boneless?
What's your best memory of Deer Lakes?
Probably just all the friends I've made. Through baseball, definitely, I've made some of my closest friendships. But outside of that, in school I've made some pretty close friends.
Best baseball memory?
It might have been getting (former coach Jon) Pedrosky the first win down at Myrtle.
What do you feel was the best game you pitched?
I'd have to say Freeport this year, just because I had all my pitches working. I had a career-high strikeouts (12), and it was against a rival in a close game (a 3-2 win).
Are you happy with your senior class' legacy?
Yeah, I'd have to say so. We made it to the consolation game, which hasn't happened much in the history. I feel younger kids can look back at that and know that they also can do that.
You prefer hitting to pitching. Why?
I've always been a bigger kid, so I've always had the advantage of just being able to hit the ball far. I guess I enjoy that.
Did you terrorize smaller kids?
No, I like to consider myself a gentle giant.
How much did you use your size to your advantage?
It's definitely an advantage, going up knowing I was the biggest kid out there and knowing pitching my height affects the angle on the ball and the deception. I have a high arm angle, so I try to play that just going downhill (to) make the ball harder to hit.
What's your best pitch?
I'd have to say my fastball, honestly, because I can command it the best and can throw it pretty hard. The last time I was clocked, I was at 85 to 87.
Are you playing for anyone this summer?
No, I'm taking the summer off because my family's going to be moving down to Virginia shortly, so it's going to be crazy. We have a lake house about two and a half hours away from (Virginia Wesleyan), so they're just moving in there. It's in Bracy, Va., two miles from the North Carolina border.
Did you go to Virginia a lot growing up?
Yeah, I spend a lot of weeks in the summer down there.
What's your favorite part about Virginia Wesleyan?
Probably that it's so close to the beach. It's only 10 minutes away.
Are you a surfer?
I just like to hang out in the ocean. I'm not a surfer, but maybe I'll pick it up.
What are you looking forward to most about college?
Probably just meeting new people. I'm going to be far away from home and far away from everyone I know, but that's an opportunity to meet new people.
Biggest hobby outside of baseball?
Just hanging out with friends. (We) go disc golfing a lot. Deer Lakes has one of the best courses in the world, so me and my friends go out probably three or four times a week.
How would you rate your disc golf skills?
I'd say average.
Any other hobbies?
I'm a huge collector of shoes. (I have) over 40 now.
How often do you get a chance to wear them?
Some of them, maybe once a year.
What's your favorite pair?
Probably my Adidas Ultra Boosts right now. They're so comfortable.
How many of them are athletic shoes?
Most of them are Jordan basketball shoes.
Favorite baseball player?
Albert Pujols. I've always been a fan of him, probably since I was 10 years old. I always looked up to him.
You can pitch to anyone in the big leagues. Who do you pick?
Probably (Yankees rookie) Aaron Judge, just to see what it's like to throw to someone who's so big.
What's your strategy?
Just throw it over the plate and hope he doesn't hit it 400 feet.
Favorite baseball movie?
I like “The Benchwarmers” a lot. It's a comedy. Me and my teammates watched that quite a bit down in Myrtle. I think it's so funny.
Three words you'd use to describe yourself?
Funny, intelligent and outgoing.
Biggest guilty pleasure, food-wise?
Reese's Cups. I love the peanut butter and chocolate. (I eat them) maybe a couple times a week, but I try not to now that I'm working out for college.
Any baseball superstitions?
This year I'd always wash my jersey before the game. I know some of the guys believed in not washing their jersey, but I was the opposite.
Who had the dirtiest jersey on the team?
Either Jake McCaskey or Jake Spirnock. I don't think they ever washed theirs.
Favorite TV show?
Probably “SportsCenter.” That's pretty much the only thing I watch on TV. I just like keeping up to date with all the sports.
I like “Space Jam” a lot.
They're rumored to be making a new one. How do you feel about that?
I think it'll be good, but I don't think it'll be better than the original.
Valley News Dispatch baseball all-stars
Freeport, Jr., OF
DeCroo hit .453 with eight doubles, two triples, two homers, 20 RBIs and 28 runs scored as the sparkplug atop the Yellowjackets' powerful batting order, helping Freeport reach the playoffs.
Burrell, Sr., P
The ace of Bucs' staff posted a 4-3 record with 49 strikeouts. He pitched a four-hitter against New Brighton in a 2-1 victory in the WPIAL Class 3A first round, giving Burrell its first postseason win since 2010.
Freeport, Sr., P/IF
Flemm posted one of the best offensive seasons in recent A-K Valley history, with a .609 average, 15 doubles, two triples, three homers and 33 RBIs. He also went 5-3 with a 1.27 ERA.
Springdale, Jr., P/1B
The anchor of the pitching staff helped the Dynamos reach the playoffs for a second straight year. He posted a 3-2 record, 3.98 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 31 2⁄3 innings and hit .277 with nine RBIs.
Freeport, Sr., 1B
The Allegheny recruit hit .435 with seven doubles and 18 RBIs out of the cleanup spot, helping the Yellowjackets average more than seven runs per game.
Deer Lakes, Sr., If/P
He scored a team-high 24 runs and swiped eight bases while batting .352 as the leadoff hitter for the WPIAL semifinalists. He had two saves and 20 strikeouts in 14 1⁄3 innings.
Deer Lakes, Jr., SS/P
The cleanup hitter hit .342 with six doubles, two triples and 17 RBIs. He served as the second starter for the Lancers with a 3-2 record, 2.74 ERA and 25 strikeouts.
Valley, Jr., C
A stalwart behind the plate, McNabb led Vikings in most offensive categories, hitting .404 with six doubles and 14 RBIs to help Valley reach the WPIAL playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Burrell, So., P/Of
Virag finished the season as Burrell's top hitter, posting a .385 batting average with three triples. Slotting behind Edwards in the pitching rotation, he posted a 5-1 record.
St. Joseph, Fr., P
Wood pitched a one-hitter in his varsity debut against Summit Academy. He earned three of the Spartans' four wins, with a 1.91 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 40 1⁄3 innings.
Sammy Carey, Springdale, Sr., SS
Matt Charlton, Freeport, Jr., DH
Noah Gillette, Highlands, So., C
Jeremy Iellimo, Valley, Sr., SS
Nik Kaminski, Burrell, Sr., C
Austin O'Hara, St. Joseph, Sr., SS/P
Jayson Sowers, Apollo-Ridge, Sr., P/IF
Jake Spirnock, Deer Lakes, Sr., C
Noah Whanger, Apollo-Ridge, Sr., P/IF
Jordan Zatawski, Riverview, Jr., IF/P