Best on the Shoreline!
It's time to nominate your favorites for the 2021 Best on the Shoreline Awards!
Recent Valley Regional graduate Jacob Robertson was an integral part to the Warriors’ starting rotation this season, along with turning in some relief appearances. Jacob and his teammates earned Valley’s first State Tournament victory in 13 seasons. (Photo courtesy of Jacob Robertson )
Jacob Robertson occupied a big spot on the Valley Regional baseball team’s pitching staff this year. Jacob was the No. 2 starter for the Warriors and also lent a hand out of the bullpen, in addition to playing third base and designated hitter. In his final year at Valley, Jacob helped the Warriors enjoy one of their most successful seasons in recent memory by notching three wins and two saves during his senior campaign.
Jacob says the biggest moment he’s ever had on the diamond was when the Warriors secured their first State Tournament victory since 2006 this spring. There was a lot up in the air for Valley at the outset of the season. Jacob appreciates that his team gave its all in order to accomplish something so notable.
“I’m most proud of our team winning the first states game in 13 years. For us to do that in for the first time in so long, I think we were all pretty psyched about it,” Jacob says. “We didn’t know what to expect going into the season. For us to win that states game, that was more than what we thought we were going to do.”
Jacob filled a couple of roles for the Warriors on the mound. He was primarily a starting pitcher, but once Valley added a little more depth to its rotation, Head Coach Brian Drinkard began using Jacob in some relief situations, as well. While a midseason change like that could prove challenging, Jacob took it in stride.
“The majority of the regular season, I was a starter in the rotation. Then Chris Sparaco came back, and that helped out a lot,” says Jacob. “Then I was able to come in for relief as needed. I was happy to play that role and help the team.”
A right-hander, Jacob liked to mix in an array of pitches in order to keep hitters off-balance. Jacob tried to keep the ball away from opposing batters, because he typically found that to be their weakness.
“I throw a four-seam fastball, a slider, and a changeup. The main thing is changing speeds. I threw a three-finger change, and it would have a bit of a drop if it was working that day,” says Jacob, a Chester resident. “A lot of high school players don’t deal well with an outside pitch. My approach was to go outside. It’s really hard for them to handle an outside pitch and be able to do anything with it.”
When Jacob was on the mound, he threw to senior captain catcher Josh Ross. Jacob put his faith in Ross in all aspects of the game.
“I trust Josh Ross. He tells me what to throw, and I trust him 100 percent on it,” Jacob says. “I don’t think about the runners on the base. I just have to get the guy at bat. I know that Josh can handle the runners, so I try to focus on the guy at the plate.”
While Jacob focused a lot on pitching this season, he also logged some innings at the hot corner by playing third base for Valley Regional.
“My junior year, I started most games at third base when I wasn’t pitching. This year, Coach Drinkard wanted me to pitch only, but at the end of the season, he threw me in there, and I did fine,” says Jacob. “I think it’s a benefit at third that the ball is hit harder. You have less time to think, and you just have to react. For me, that’s better.”
Jacob stepped up as a leader in his senior year. Jacob didn’t have much experience in that role, but he did his best to set the right example for his younger teammates.
“If I played the same position as another player, I would try to give them some tips. Mostly, I tried to lead with my attitude,” Jacob says. “I tried not to get upset and stay positive for everyone. I thought that was important for the team.”
Coach Drinkard loved the effort that Jacob brought to each practice and every game. Drinkard knows that Valley is going to miss having Jacob on the diamond and in the dugout next year.
“Jacob’s a great kid. He was always one of the first to get to practice and the last to leave. He’s definitely been a huge part of the program for his four years, and we’re going to miss him. The kids looked up to him,” Drinkard says. “I know that deep down he wanted to be a position player, but we had him be a pitcher and a designated hitter. He never complained. He never questioned our decisions or anything. Accepting that kind of role is a kind of quiet leadership that he showed the younger players.”
Jacob will be attending the University of Rhode Island in the fall. Although he won’t be playing baseball at the collegiate level, Jacob will major in kinesiology and plans to work as a physical therapist. In the end, Jacob is happy that he had the chance to enjoy four seasons playing baseball at Valley Regional. Jacob often found that getting out on the field would put him at ease.
“I’m probably the one baseball player that isn’t superstitious. When I play baseball, I’m really relaxed. I don’t want to be uptight. That’s how you make mistakes,” says Jacob. “I think that’s how the team was, too, this year. We went out there and had fun.”