Prior to the start South River’s varsity baseball season, outfielder Nick Sia sent a tweet to one of his idols, the Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones, to make a deal.
“He agreed that if I make the state championship game or Brooks Robinson game, he’d meet me,” Sia said.
Ecstatic about the possibility of meeting his idol, Sia set out to not only meet Jones but also to make the All-County team for a second year in a row while leading his team to the playoffs. But before the eager Seahawk could take the field, Sia’s spring came to a screeching halt.
Just two days before the opening game against rival Arundel High, doctors diagnosed Sia with appendicitis, sidelining him for the first seven games of the year.
Sia had been feeling abdominal pain and as it grew worse his parents took him to the hospital.
“Once I got to the hospital, that’s when I knew it was serious. That’s when I realized I probably wouldn’t be playing against [Arundel],” Sia said. “Once I found out they were going to do surgery, it was a total downer.”
The surgeon found a perforated appendix that was full of infection and some of it had leaked out near the teenager’s lower abdominal wall, said Nick’s father, Rick Sia. After waking up from surgery, the South River senior received dozens of texts and phone calls from friends and teammates, even some from Arundel, Rick Sia said.
Sia couldn’t wait to start playing baseball again. However, due to the sensitive nature of his injury, Sia’s coaches and parents continually tried to keep him from working too hard and avoid risking further damages to his abdomen. That didn’t stop the him from pushing the limits, even if it meant fighting through pain, Sia said.
“It was upsetting but I tried to stay positive like cheering in the dugout. Moping wasn’t going to help anything,” Sia said. “I knew at some point I’d be back, it just stunk not knowing exactly when.”
For seven games straight, Sia watched or had a very limited influence in South River’s baseball games. For a player who received All-County honors the previous year, it was almost unbearable, Sia said.
After missing the first third of the season, Sia slowly began hitting and fielding, but it took time. The rehab was much worse than the outfielder expected and it ultimately affected how he played the game.
“I couldn’t even come close to swinging full speed, throwing from a normal arm slot or running full speed,” Sia said. “I just had to re-establish that muscle memory. I completely avoided headfirst sliding this year. I didn’t do it, not once.”
After getting the green light from doctors, coaches and his parents, Sia started his first full game on April 12 against Northeast High—about three weeks after his surgery. He went 3-for-3, lifting his batting average to .600 through his first 10 at bats, Rick Sia said.
After tweeting that he had finally returned to the baseball diamond, Sia received a tweet from Adam Jones that said, “… awesome my man. That’s solid heat at 17. Good luck with everything.”
The Seahawks’ No. 9 continued to excel, providing speed on the base paths, solid defense in the outfield and a high-percentage bat at the plate. By the end of the regular season, Sia was back to being a threat in the Seahawks lineup and helped the team solidify a spot in the state playoffs.
South River eventually fell in the second round to the No. 1 seed, Old Mill High, but it was the conclusion of a remarkable season for both Sia and the team.
“To be completely honest, it was fun. It was perfect for a last game,” Sia said. “By the fourth or fifth inning, I knew we weren’t going to win so I just tried to enjoy it. I decided to embrace the time with my teammates.”
The outfielder ended the season with a .426 batting average, 9 RBI and 9 extra-base hits.
Reaching his goals
The Capital reported that Sia made the Anne Arundel County Coaches’ All-County squad on May 26, and following that announcement, Sia learned he was chosen to play in the Brooks Robinson game at Camden Yards, featuring the best high school baseball players in the state. In doing so, it meant he would get to meet Adam Jones.
Sia’s preseason goals were to reach the state championship, make the Anne Arundel All-County baseball team, play in the Brooks Robinson game and meet Jones. With a meeting now scheduled with Jones, the 17-year-old from Crofton went 3-for-4.
Not only will Sia meet Jones, he’ll get to walk in his shoes.
The South River graduate is set to play centerfield at Camden Yards on Sunday —the very space occupied by the man that inspired him to excellence throughout the year.