When Bishop England baseball coach Mike Darnell talks about former star pitcher Geoffrey Gilbert, he mentions Gilbert’s talent because he’s a tall, left-handed pitcher who has the potential – and repertoire of pitches — to play in the Major Leagues.
But what Darnell stresses is Gilbert’s determination and ability to change a game with his cerebral approach.
Gilbert dominated South Carolina high school hitters for at least three years in his brilliant prep career. He matriculated to Clemson in time for the 2019-20 academic year and did well in the classroom and on the mound.
This spring, Gilbert was on top of the hill and at the top of his game and demonstrated his talent and mind-set that made him arguably the best high school player in South Carolina his junior and senior seasons.
When Gilbert got the call from Clemson coach Monte Lee to enter the game in relief, Gilbert was impressive. He posted a 1-0 record and fashioned an 0.71 ERA in eight relief outings.
Gilbert allowed seven hits in 12 2/3 innings and struck out 14 to begin the season.
And then it happened.
The coronavirus halted Gilbert’s and the Tigers’ season.
“When I first heard about the virus, I never really thought that much about it, as I believe most of us acted in the same way,” Gilbert said. “We were in the middle of long days of classes and practice as we were preparing for the season. It began to spread, and we began to take more precautions but just continued to go about our day.
Then it hit pretty much all at once before we were scheduled to begin an 11-day road trip. They canceled games until further notice.”
Soon after, the NCAA called off the College World Series.
“That was like a shot in the heart,” he said. “That was the moment I began to feel like there was a real possibility we would not be returning to play this year.”
But Gilbert’s impressive freshman debut didn’t go unnoticed. He was selected as the No. 50 ACC prospect for the 2022 draft in the preseason by D1Baseball.com.
So, this fall’s baseball season is important to Gilbert’s development after his freshman season was cut short by the virus.
“As I am not pitching in any games right now, a lot of my work and preparation comes mentally more than physically,” Gilbert said. “I do a lot of meditation and mental imagery. Mental imagery has tremendously helped me transition to the college game and environment. It helps me be cognizant of maintaining a consistent breathing pattern and heart rate before I enter the game.”
Gilbert always was on top of his baseball game at Bishop England. He earned all-state and all-America honors at Bishop England, a team he helped lead to three straight state championships. He also was a member of the BE swimming team and at one time had the opportunity to be a Junior Olympian swimmer.
But Gilbert opted to make a splash in baseball, and the rest is history.