Ten-year-old Vincent Stio enjoys punching out minor league batters with his right fist.

It’s actually more of a left-right combination with a hip twist that Vincent executes, with gusto, when hitters watch a third strike. That punch-out is the favorite maneuver of Vincent, who attends minor league games to watch the umpires rather than the players.

Vincent, who lives near Raleigh, N.C., attended the Richmond Flying Squirrels’ game against Trenton on Saturday night with his parents, another stop in a series of minor league games for the trio. They look like a typical family, except for Vincent’s umpire outfit and his constant movements that mimic the umpires on the field.

Vincent said he is a left-handed-hitting second baseman for his youth team, but he wants to be a professional umpire, not a New York Yankee, San Francisco Giant or Chicago Cub. Three years ago, Vincent determined this.

“I don’t know how he got hooked on umpires,” said Vinny Stio, Vincent’s father. “I’m a big baseball fan and when I watch a game, my perspective is the hitter, the fielder. His perspective came to be the umpire. I don’t know if it was the equipment, or what.”

Twelve rows behind The Diamond’s backstop Saturday night, Vincent, in his replica umpire garb without the mask he sometimes holds, stood for virtually the entire game. He made safe calls. He made out calls. Between pitches, his hands were on his knees and he bent at the waist, copying the stances of the umpires on the field.

Fifty yards from home plate, Vincent punched out batters, repeating the left-right combination with the hip twist many times following a few strike-three calls. He got high-fives from fans at The Diamond who saw his moves and admired his passion.

The Stio family often attends games of the Carolina Mudcats, the Class A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. They sit in an area near where the umpires enter the field, per Vinny’s partial season-ticket plan. Over time, the umpires working Mudcats’ games recognized Vincent’s interest in their jobs.

Relationships started and continue.

As those umpire buddies elevated in the minors, Vinny Stio started making trips so his son could observe familiar umps who used to work Mudcats’ games. Vincent was at The Diamond on Saturday to catch up with Chris Scott, a former Carolina League ump who was part of the three-man crew for the Richmond-Trenton game.

The umpires Vincent has befriended supplied him with an official umpire’s hat and the patches umpires wear on their uniforms. His parents took care of the black shirt and gray slacks. Vincent accompanied Scott on Saturday to the pregame meeting involving umpires and managers at home plate.

Vinny Stio said his son on a daily basis checks the assignments of the umpires he knows, and that schedule dictates where the family might travel in the region to watch a minor league game.

Sunday’s Squirrels game

Switch-hitting second baseman Miguel Gomez had three of Richmond’s five hits Sunday afternoon in a 3-2 loss to Trenton before 3,907 at The Diamond.

Richmond starter Chase Johnson retired the first two batters he faced, and then didn’t get out of the first inning. He was removed after Trenton took a 3-0 lead. In relief, Mike Connolly gave up one hit in 5⅓ innings, keeping the Squirrels in it.

Dylan Davis’ two-run double in the sixth cut the Thunder’s lead to 3-2.

Note: The Squirrels play Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Altoona (Pittsburgh Pirates) and then return home Thursday to start a four-game homestand, with Harrisburg (Washington Nationals) as guest.

Thunder AB R H BI W K AVG

Hendrix CF 3 0 0 0 0 1 .000

Amburgey LF 4 0 0 0 0 1 .194

Avelino DH 4 1 1 0 0 1 .400

Gittens 1B 3 1 1 2 1 1 .214

Katoh SS 4 1 1 0 0 2 .237

Jackson RF 4 0 2 1 0 1 .224

Caldwell 2B 2 0 0 0 1 0 .202

Numata C 3 0 0 0 0 0 .162

Alvarez 3B 3 0 1 0 0 1 .252

Totals 30 3 6 3 2 8 .221

2B: Katoh (7); Jackson (3). HR: Gittens (3). RBI: Gittens 2 (17); Jackson (14). SAC: Hendrix. LOB: 3.

Flying Squirrels AB R H BI W K AVG

Rodriguez RF 4 0 0 0 0 1 .383

Gomez 2B 4 1 3 0 0 0 .297

Howard SS 3 1 1 0 1 1 .286

Davis LF 4 0 1 2 0 1 .252

Garcia C 3 0 0 0 1 1 .193

Hobson DH 3 0 0 0 1 2 .250

Castillo 3B 4 0 0 0 0 0 .227

Dobson 1B 3 0 0 0 0 1 .164

Jebavy CF 3 0 0 0 0 1 .196

Totals 31 2 5 2 3 8 .232

2B: Gomez, M 2 (6); Davis (7). RBI: Davis 2 (17). LOB: 5.

Trenton 300 000 000 — 3 6 0

Richmond 000 002 000 — 2 5 0

Thunder IP H R ER W K ERA

Keller W, 3-2 7 4 2 2 2 6 4.18

Tarpley 1 0 0 0 0 2 2.40

Foley S, 5 1 1 0 0 1 0 1.65

Flying Squirrels IP H R ER W K ERA

Johnson L, 0-1 2/3 4 3 3 1 0 7.36

Connolly 51/3 1 0 0 0 5 1.23

McCasland 3 1 0 0 1 3 4.37

WP: Johnson, C.

T: 2:35. Att: 3,907.

joconnor@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6233

@RTDjohnoconnor

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