MINERAL—Bradley Hanner hopes that each fastball sends up a smoke signal, prays that each breaking ball becomes a beacon.
With a little more than a month remaining until Major League Baseball’s First-Year Amateur Draft, the Orange County ace has turned his singular focus toward capturing the attention of pro scouts.
And he remains fully confident in his right arm’s ability to do so.
“I think they’ll find me,” Hanner said.
The hard-throwing right-hander can only hope a few were in the vicinity of Louisa County High School Tuesday night. Hanner struck out 10 Lions, needing just 84 pitches to complete the Hornets’ 1-0 shutout.
“He had a little more juice out there than I’ve seen,” said Louisa coach Kevin Fisher, who added that Hanner topped out at 91 mph on the Lions’ radar gun.
When Hanner is on the mound, Orange County’s offense operates with a basic understanding: One run is enough. On Tuesday, a single hit produced it.
Hornets’ senior Trevon Smith delivered the decisive knock in the top of third inning. At 6 feet and 235 pounds, Smith is more reminiscent of a linebacker than a leadoff hitter. And in fact, Smith signed with Glenville (W.Va.) State in February to play both baseball and football.
But early this season, Orange County coach David Rabe decided to eschew lineup orthodoxy, placing his best hitters at the top of the order regardless of their other tools.
After Christian Amos reached on an error to start the third, Allan Seeley laid down a flawless sacrifice bunt to advance him to second. Amos moved to third on a passed ball, and scored easily when Smith ripped a ball to the warning track in left-center.
“Any time that big boy steps in the box, we’re going to have a chance,” Rabe said of his unconventional leadoff man.
Hanner did need to finesse his way out of one jam, in the bottom of the second. Louisa’s Dakota Hall singled to lead off, and Wayne Butler followed with a ground ball through the hole between short and third.
Fisher wind-milled Hall around third, but left fielder Will Dawson’s throw one-hopped surgically to catcher Keenan Williams, who applied the tag at home.
“With Hanner on the bump, I’m going to take chances and be aggressive,” Fisher said of the decision to send Hall on the play.
Louisa junior Tristan Snyder had the distinct misfortune of pitching opposite Hanner on Tuesday night. Snyder allowed just the one hit and didn’t walk a batter in absorbing the tough-luck loss for the Lions (9-5-1).
Hanner won’t be in baseball limbo if his name isn’t called on June 12. As a contingency, he plans to attend Patrick Henry Community College for two years.
Until then, he hopes to guide Orange (13-2) to regional and state berths with more outings like the one he turned in on Tuesday.
On second thought, Hanner’s two aims might be intertwined after all.
“It’ll help if we keep winning a lot of games into the playoffs, and more scouts will come,” Hanner said.
BRADLEY HANNER and Keenan Williams. TRISTAN SNYDER and Aaron Szalankeniez.