In baseball, it’s called the battery – the combo of pitcher and catcher.
It is, without question, one of the most integral parts of a team.
The pair need to be in sync and communication needs to be perfect, so the pitches end up being thrown to the right place, rather than thrown wildly, or, worse, deposited by the batter over the outfield fence.
Basically, without the battery, the team doesn’t run.
But such a power outage has been a rare thing for the White Rock-South Surrey baseball teams that Sam Shoemaker and Dawson Gray have played on through the years.
The teenage battery – Shoemaker is a pitcher, Gray a catcher – have played together since they were nine years old, and have plenty of experience representing White Rock in tournaments throughout B.C. and the United States in recent years.
But for the two 15-year-olds, this summer topped them all.
First, Shoemaker and Gray – along with fellow White Rock-South Surrey Baseball Association teammates Jackson Hogg, Marshall Luiz and Jacob Graves – were part of the Surrey (Area 3A) ball team that defeated Vancouver 8-7 to win gold at the BC Summer Games in Nanaimo in June.
The pair doubled their medal count later in the summer, when, late last month, they were part of the Team BC squad that won the bronze media at national bantam championships in Vaughan, Ont.
They had been chosen for the provincial squad shortly after their performances at the BC Games.
“This has definitely been our busiest summer, for sure,” said Shoemaker.
“And it’s easier to pitch when you’ve played (with your catcher) for a long time, especially because we only had a couple practices (before nationals).
“You know their style, you know how the other person plays.”
In Vaughan, the B.C. team went 2-2 in round-robin play, and lost to the Ontario provincial team – the eventual gold-medal winners – in the playoffs.
Both shone in the bronze-medal contest against the hosts from Vaughan, a game that B.C. won 7-3.
Shoemaker was on the mound for the victors, pitching six-and-two-third innings, allowing just two earned runs to earn the win.
Gray, meanwhile, was steady both behind the plate as a catcher, and beside it as a batter, with two base hits.
Twice during the tournament he was awarded player-of-the-game awards – one for his defence, and one for his offence.
At the event’s end, he was named the nationals’ top catcher and an all-star after finishing with a .421 batting average.
Not to be outdone, Shoemaker picked up game MVP awards in both games in which he pitched, finishing with a 1.40 earned-run average and 17 strikeouts in 10 innings.
“It went really well,” he said.