Jake Tomcheck walked back to the dugout and calmly made the call to his dad.
“We’ve kind of got to go to the hospital,” he said.
A coolly understated thing for the Resurrection Christian junior to say seconds after a baseball smashed into the side of his face.
Early this month Tomcheck was in the outfield playing catch with a teammate at practice when he thought he heard a coach call his name.
He turned away from his throwing partner for a second and right as he turned back the ball exploded into his cheek.
“It was pretty nuts. As soon as it hit me, I knew something was wrong,” Tomcheck said.
He had surgery and three metal plates were inserted and nearly 50 stitches in and around his mouth.
“The first thing I thought of was the season coming up,” Tomcheck said. “I didn’t want to miss too much of it.”
He missed none of it. He was cleared by doctors last Monday and was back at practice on Tuesday.
He played in Thursday’s season-opening win for Resurrection Christian, the reigning Class 2A champions.
The Cougars are ranked No. 1 in 2A in the Associated Press media poll and Tomcheck is hoping for a big season to help replace some of the key players lost from last year, especially on the mound.
Saturday the left-hander opened the double-header against Liberty Common on the mound.
When he’s pitching or playing first base he has to wear a mask protecting his face and he wears a cage while batting.
Resurrection Christian students in the stands called him “Bane” after the super-villain in Batman and he was a nightmare for Liberty Common batters to deal with.
In his start he allowed one hit and no runs in five innings, striking out 10 batters as the Cougars won 12-2.
“It was pretty different. My follow through was a little weird because (the mask) protrudes from my chin,” Tomcheck said. “I surpassed my expectations for myself on the plate and the mound today. I didn’t think I was going to be able to perform at the level I did.”
RCS is 3-0 after sweeping Liberty Common and Tomcheck’s batting .600 with three RBI in nine plate appearances, despite waging a psychological war against the ball.
He said there were a few moments where he got skittish with a bad hop in the field or pitches thrown near his head, but overall his recovery has been easier than expected.
His performance was no surprise for coach Grant MacAlmon.
“For him to come out and throw the way he did, I’m pumped for that,” MacAlmon said. “The kid’s a football player, so he knows what it’s like to look through a facemask and he’s tough as nails.”
Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle.