Line drive to face doesn’t deter Schilling’s desire to pitch for Foley

By: Mike Moore | Madison - Park News | Published May 2, 2014

 Garrett Schilling, pictured during last season’s run to a state title, hopes to be back in action soon.

Garrett Schilling, pictured during last season’s run to a state title, hopes to be back in action soon.

File photo by Deb Jacques

MADISON HEIGHTS — The plan was to pitch for four innings.

A modest day’s work before someone would come in and take over a nonleague game that didn’t have much bearing on anything.

But then, as has happened in the past, Garrett Schilling was simply dominant on the mound — unhittable, to be exact.

“Nobody had really had a good swing on him to that point,” Madison Heights Bishop Foley baseball coach Buster Sunde recalled of an April 24 home game with Macomb Lutheran North. “I couldn’t take him out when he had a no-hitter going.”

The fifth started like the previous four had gone, one batter up, one batter down.

Schilling was cruising, getting better as the game grew longer.

To the next batter, the tall right-hander wound and fired what he called his “best fastball of the game.”

A split second later, he collapsed to his knees, unable to see out of his left eye, and begging for help on the mound.

“All I could ask was if I was going to be all right or not,” Schilling said last week, reliving the line drive he took to the face. “I could tell something was wrong, but I really didn’t know what.”

Sunde was the first one to the mound, and he knew something wasn’t right.

Aside from seeing the impression of stiches from the ball in Schilling’s left cheek, the senior hurler couldn’t see out of his left eye.

“At that point, you’re not thinking about baseball,” Sunde said. “You’re praying he’s going to be all right.”

Schilling’s parents were in the stands when the line drive hit their son. 

“We were about half way to the mound, and Buster said we had to get him to the hospital very fast,” Cyndi Schilling, Garrett’s mother, recalled. “We were in a little bit of shock. We really didn’t know what to think.”

Less than a week later, Garrett Schilling’s vision had returned to normal, the swelling had subsided, and on April 30, he had surgery to implant two small plates to repair the fractures.

“The damage to Garrett’s face was worse than expected, but the surgery went well, and he is expected to make a full recovery,” said Cyndi Schilling. “His return date (to baseball) is not known, but he may be back sooner than you’d think.”

He returned home from the hospital May 2. His recovery is expected to take just a couple of  weeks, at which point, playing baseball will be an option again.

“I want to get back out there,” Garrett Schilling said the day before his surgery. “They told me I could get back to normal activity in a couple weeks, so after that, we’ll see. I know it will take some time for my arm to get back into shape, but I don’t see myself not playing again this year.”

“I hope he gets back out there,” Cyndi Schlling said. “He’s going to want to get back out there. He’ll be ready.”

Garrett Schilling has been dominant for Foley ever since he slipped on the jersey as a freshman and immediately made an impact on the varsity squad.

He’s been one of the main reasons the Ventures have won three straight Division 3 state titles and remains one of the biggest reasons many expect that streak to reach four this June.

“I know he loves the game of baseball, but my biggest concern is his health, his vision and things getting back to where they were,” Sunde said. “If he pitches for us, that’s great. I’d love to have him back with us, obviously; he’s one of the key elements of our program. But the main concern is his health and his future.”

Schilling, who has thrown as fast as 88 mph per hour this year with his fast ball, was 4-0 before the injury.

In his four-year career, he’s compiled a 36-0 record and earned a scholarship to Xavier University.

The Clawson resident, who said he was hit in the chest as a 12- year-old while pitching, but uninjured, said the biggest thing about getting back on the mound is the mental approach.

“I don’t know what I’ll be thinking,” Schilling admitted. “Watching (Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman) get hit (in the face) and knowing he’s going to be back out there, I see myself being able to do it, too. I’ll start behind the screen and work my way through it.”

“I don’t know what it’s going to be like, but I want to do it,” he added. “It’s a game I’m passionate about. I’ve been pitching since I was 11. It’s what I love about this sport. Being able to finish my career with Foley and be part of what we want to do this year, that would be pretty special.”