Loudoun Valley juniors Jack DeGroat and Sam Urban have played baseball together since they were 8 years old. The two, who call each other best friends, have matured into solid talents on the diamond, and both put the state of Virginia on notice at the 3A state championship at Liberty University.
DeGroat, a right-handed pitcher, posted 10 strikeouts in the Vikings’ 9-1 state title game win over Poquoson, after earning the save in the state semifinal. Not to be outdone, Urban, a centerfielder, hit 4 for 6 with three RBI and two runs scored in the two state tournament games.
After leading Loudoun Valley (25-3) to the school’s first baseball state championship since 1972, both players received emails from the Liberty coaching staff. Urban received an official offer June 18 and DeGroat received his June 21. Liberty was the the first school to offer both players. Saturday, both committed to the Lynchburg university three hours south of their hometown of Purcellville.
“All the facilities and the field were just so nice, all that stuff won me over,” DeGroat said. “Everything was too nice to turn down, and it offered Sam and I another four years to play with each other.”
Urban called the facilities on the Lynchburg campus some of the best on the East Coast. He was receiving interest from several schools after Liberty offered, but decided to cut his recruiting process short.
“Coach [Jim] Toman is a great guy and the program is doing well,” Urban said. “One of my best friends was getting offered and we thought it would be awesome if we went there together.”
The Flames finished 41-18 this season and advanced to the NCAA tournament where they lost two close games in the Charlottesville regional hosted by Virginia.
Urban posted 16 RBI this season for the 10th-ranked Vikings’ potent offense which averaged 8.6 runs per game. For DeGroat, it was his first high school season on the mound. The 6-foot, 170-pound junior played catcher until last summer when Stars Baseball Coach Carson Carroll suggested he make the move to pitcher.
DeGroat transitioned seamlessly for Loudoun Valley, striking out 58 batters and will likely assume the role of the ace for the Vikings with Will Reed moving on to Shepherd University. DeGroat pounds the strike zone with his fastball, but also mixes in a curveball and changeup.
“I have a lot of room to improve and they’re hoping I will come along as a pitcher,” DeGroat said of his talks with the Flames coaching staff. “Hopefully I will have improved by the time I get there.”