Mike Bianucci, the soft-spoken leader of the W.T. Woodson baseball team, is putting together one of the best seasons in recent memory -- at the plate and on the mound.
Bianucci has set the tone for the Cavaliers' offense with a .563 batting average, 6 home runs, 31 RBI, 26 runs scored and only nine strikeouts in 64 at-bats. His pitching line is equally as impressive: The right-hander has won all eight of his starts, posted an ERA of 1.83 and struck out 39 (as compared with six walks) in 46 innings. And Bianucci considers himself more a shortstop than a pitcher.
"He's having about a good a year as anyone could have," said W.T. Woodson Coach Chris Warren, whose Cavaliers (15-5) have won six games in a row entering the Virginia AAA Liberty District tournament this week. "He's hit for average and power. He's stolen bases. He's pitched well, and he's been solid defensively. He sets the tone for us."
After a productive sophomore season, the 6-foot-1 Bianucci worked out daily during the offseason at the health club his father, Gary, owns, packing 12 pounds of muscle onto his 182-pound frame. When he wasn't lifting weights, he was taking hacks at an indoor batting cage, which he and his brother, Tony, a 1999 graduate of W.T. Woodson and outfielder for the Class A Fort Myers (Fla.) Red Sox, would rent after-hours.
During a three-game stretch May 5-10, Bianucci smacked four home runs and knocked in 13 runs in victories over Marshall and South Lakes and followed that with a complete-game win against Langley.
Bianucci is the first to say he hasn't done it alone. He bats third in the lineup and has received good protection at the plate from leadoff batter Mike Salinas (.407), No. 2 hitter Jon Quigley (.469) and cleanup Ross Taranto (22 RBI).
"I've even surprised myself with the way I'm playing," said Bianucci, who wants to follow his brother into professional baseball. "The hard work is paying off. And it helps so much to have good players in front of me and behind me. "
On Wednesday, Bianucci will take the mound with his team in need of a first-round victory over South Lakes at home to earn an automatic bid into the Northern Region tournament.
"Second place doesn't get you anything in our district," Warren said. "We've got to win [Wednesday]."