Zacharie Schaubhut was with his buddies doing what he loved Sunday when, on the pitcher's mound of a Bemidji baseball field, the 15-year-old collapsed and later died.
The teen was struck by a ball after it was hit by a batter, according to a news release from the Bemidji Police Department. He died later Sunday at a Fargo hospital, his grandfather Steve Schaubhut told the Forum News Service.
The family is unsure what directly led to the teenager's death. He had been playing a pickup game with his friends. Bemidji police and fire departments responded to a medical call about 12:20 p.m. at the Bemidji High School baseball field. He was taken to Sanford Bemidji Medical Center and later flown to a Fargo hospital, his grandfather said.
The death sent shock through the teen's group of former youth baseball teammates, who had played together for several years and enjoyed success on the field, winning state titles at ages 11 and 12 and winning runner-up at 13 and 14.
Zacharie had moved to Des Moines with his family last fall, after his mother got a new job in Iowa, Bemidji Youth Baseball President Bruce Dahlin said. He missed his friends during the school year, texting them frequently. He came back to Bemidji over the weekend to try out for a summer VFW league, Dahlin said. Tryouts were to be held on Tuesday.
Corey Boen, a parent who also coached the kids for several years, said conflicting stories are circulating about exactly what happened on the field, but that the family had been indicating "that there was some underlying condition that was being triggered."
Boen said the teammates were spending time together Sunday and Monday, struggling with questions about why Zacharie was taken away so young in what seemed to be a freak incident. They were also remembering his quick wit and smiles, Boen said.
"When the kids are a little bit stressed and tense, we could always count on Zach to lighten the mood and make us relax a little bit," Boen said.
They are trying to find solace in the fact that "he was taken away doing something he loved," Boen said.
This memorial was posted on the Bemidji Youth Baseball's Facebook page, along with photos of Zacharie: "It is with a heavy heart that our Northern Heat family asks for prayers for the family & friends of Zacharie Schaubhut. … Zach has gone to play at that big field in the sky. May the skies be blue, the grass be mowed & the umpires make the right calls. Until we meet again… ."
Staff writer Pam Louwagie, the Bemidji Pioneer and the Fargo Forum, via the Associated Press, contributed to this report.