Wildcats junior Sabo elevated game

Baseball player of the year Jonathan Sabo from West Ashley High School.

Grace Beahm

At 5-9, Jonathan Sabo doesn’t look like a power hitter. But take into consideration intangibles such as heart and determination, and he’s a sultan of swing.

Last summer, Sabo hit a home run that went viral in traditional and social media.

Sabo, who weighed 150 pounds at the time, was preparing to play in a tournament as a member of the East Coast Baseball Academy team when he and his 83-year-old grandfather, Frank Sabo, talked baseball for perhaps the final time. His grandfather, with only days to live, asked him to hit a home run.

It was a tough request to fulfill because Sabo had never hit a home run, and he was going to play at College Park, a field much bigger than a high school field. But the baseball gods smiled and Sabo delivered.

It might be too much to ask of Sabo to top that achievement, but he’ll try.

This spring, as a member of the West Ashley baseball team, Sabo batted .512, collecting 44 hits in 86 at-bats as a junior. He had nine extra-base hits and 21 RBIs. He also fared well on the mound with a 7-2 record while recording two saves. He allowed only 47 hits in 54 innings and had a 2.20 ERA.

He was a big reason why the Wildcats won their first region championship since the school opened in 2000. Sabo’s effort earned him The Post and Courier’s baseball player of the year award, heading up the All-Lowcountry baseball team.

“Before every game, I still look up and ask him to watch over me,” Sabo said of his grandfather. “He still inspires me. I want to play well.”

Sabo and the Wildcats’ reputation have grown. He attended a recent Diamond Prospects camp and was surprised to hear players from around the state talk about his team in such a positive way.

“Everyone came up and congratulated me,” Sabo said. “I think we surprised a lot of people this year. Next year, it will be expected.”

Wildcats coach Mitch Miggenburg said Sabo became a better hitter this spring because he hit the ball to all fields.

“He hits the ball to the opposite field about as good as any high school player that I’ve seen,” Miggenburg said. “That’s made him a way better hitter.”

Sabo and teammate Taylor Oden, who is also an All-Lowcountry selection, were team leaders despite being juniors.

“They have great attitudes,” Miggenburg said. “They got everyone on the same page. The right attitude, that’s something I’ve tried to instill since I got here. It finally sank in.”

Bishop England, which reached the state championship series for the fifth time in 10 years, leads the way with three All-Lowcountry selections: Zack Madden, Cameron Garrett and Tradd Lowman.

Wando, James Island and Summerville all have two selections apiece.

The Warriors’ selections are Michael Carpin and Babe Thomas. The Trojans’ picks are Tyler Weekley and Christian Dorothy, while the Green Wave’s selections are Zach Mosay and T.J. Hopkins.

The rest of the All-Lowcountry team includes Seth Lancaster, Hanahan; Andrew Lockliear, Berkeley; Michael DeLee, Woodland, Ryan Boyle, Fort Dorchester and Cody Smith, Goose Creek.

Landy Cox, who guided Berkeley to a 25-4 record and its first region title in 50 years, is the coach of the year.

The Charleston RiverDogs will honor the All-Lowcountry baseball and softball teams on June 27 at Riley Park.

The players will be introduced and presented plaques on the field before the start of the RiverDogs’ game against the Hickory Crawdads. There will also be in-game ceremonies recognizing the players and coaches of the year.