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Author: Craig Noto

2012 gets underway for the Blackbirds

The 2012 College Baseball season kicks off Friday night under the Lights at UCF for the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds. UCF will be opening a new stadium renovation this evening and our guys are eager for the challenge of the #21 ranked Knights.

Junior RHP Chris Franzese will get the ball for the Blackbirds in Game 1.Franzese is coming off a stellar 2011 campaign that saw him win 7 games and earn a spot on the 1st team All NEC squad. 2011 Johnny Bench Award Finalist Catcher Tyler Jones leads an improved LIU Brooklyn offense into the weekend. CF Pete Leonello and 2B Brad Greve will be looked upon to set the table for the Blackbirds. The middle of our line up has some proven run producers in it with Jones, Walsh and JUCO transfer Chris Untereiner. Returning players Tito Marrero, Albert Faz, Julian Castro and Mike Garcia have had strong Fall and Spring seasons so far and will be productive for us. new comer Freshman Jesse Brown has shown some tremendous power between the Fall and Spring and will also see a lot of time in the DH slot when not catching or playing 3B.

Overall we feel like we have a better club than the team that set a school record for wins in 2011 and made an NEC Tournament appearance. The college baseball season is a long one, filled with ups and downs. we remind our guys every day that it’s a marathon not a sprint. The experience of playing a Nationally ranked program like UCF out of the gate is key for our club. Although we are different, there are a lot of similarities between us and UCF. UCF in 2011 made their first NCAA Tournament appearance in I believe 7 years. we made our first NEC Tournament appearance in 11 years. UCF is trying to reach a Super Regional in 2012 while we are looking to take that next step and go to a Regional. although different, this is a tale of two hungry programs on the rise.

Giants are Superbowl Champions!

It’s great to be back! Fresh off of a NY Giants  Super Bowl Victory and Parade through the Canyon of Heroes in Downtown Manhattan, the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds are ready for the 2012 season! We are excited here at LIU-Brooklyn to get underway with the 2012 season.

A lot has happened since we left you last May on our way to the NEC Championships. We did not reach our team goal of winning the Northeast Championship last season but are looking forward to reaching that goal in 2012.

The Blackbirds will be traveling to sunny Orlando, FL to play #21 UCF February 17-19th. UCF will be opening their new stadium and our guys are eager to get going. UCF has enjoyed a lot of pre-season attention and it’s a great challenge for our guys right out of the gate.

I will be updating you weekly about the Blackbirds season as well as introducing you to some of our players prior to our season opening. We have a great group of guys here at LIU Brooklyn and cannot wait to get underway.

In the meantime please visit us on the web at www.liuathletics.com/baseball

If you’ve been following college baseball here in the Northeast you’ll know there have been some recent coaching changes. I want to take a minute out and wish good luck to the following guys on their new coaching positions; Kevin Leighton (Manhattan to Fordham), Joe Litterio (Wagner College to Rutgers University), Jimmy Carone (Villanova to Wagner) and John Russo (Assistant @ Hofstra to Head Coach @ Hofstra), Jim Duffy (Seton Hall University Assistant to Manhattan Head Coach) and Jamie Quinn (LIU Brooklyn to Hofstra University Assistant).

Two former LIU Players and coaches have moved on to other positions as well. Dan Pirillo (LIU Graduate Assistant to Volunteer @ Georgia College D-2) and Matthew Owens (LIU Director of Baseball Operations to Assistant Coach @ Newman College D-3). Matt, Jamie and Dan were a big part of lasts years run at the NEC Championship and we appreciate all of the effort they put forward for our program.

All of these guys are great people and outstanding baseball coaches and I wish them the best of luck with their new jobs. 9 days until opening day……

 

 

Leonello Named NEC Rookie of the Week for the 2nd time in 2011

Long Island University Freshman sensation Peter Leonello has been named The Northeast Conference Player of the Week for the 2nd time this season.

Click on the links below for the official press releases.

http://liuathletics.com/news/2011/5/2/BSB_0502114424.aspx?path=baseball

http://northeastconference.org/News/baseball/2011/5/2/base-releasewk10-11.asp?path=baseball

In the Link above, click on Peter’s name to take you to his article.

Blackbirds Move into First Place in the NEC

 

The Long Island University Blackbirds took sole possession of 1st place in the Northeast Conference after an thrilling 11-9 comeback victory over Mount St. Mary’s. With the win the Blackbirds completed a four game series sweep of the Mount and improved to 18-5 overall in the NEC (26-15 overall).

After winning the first three games of the series with solid pitching performances, the Birds put themselves in a 9-0 hole in the 3rd inning. Over the next 6 innings the Blackbirds erupted for 11 runs, highlighted by homeruns from Julian Castro (2 run HR), Derek Stupski (solo HR) and a two run game winning single from DH Tyler Jones. Jones, Castro and Stupski collected 3 hits each while Sam Sciamarelli (CF) and Matthew Molbury (C) split 4 hits.

Game 1 this past weekend featured a Complete Game Shutout by Sophomore RHP Chris Franzese in a 5-0 victory. Tyler Jones collected 3 hits and two RBI while Freshman sensation Peter Leonello collected two hits and stole his NEC league leading 14th base. 

Game 2 featured more strong pitching from the Blackbirds as Sophomore LHP Matthew McCormick earned a complete game victory allowing 2 ER and striking out 6 Mount hitters.

Game 3 starter Justin Topa also turned in a strong performance on the hill earning the victory with 6 IP, 2 ER allowing  4 hits. The NEC leader in save Evan Zerff, collected his 12th save of the year in a 6-5 LIU win. Junior SS Drew Walsh collected 2 hits and drove in 2 runs as did Freshman OF Peter Leonello.

This coming week we will host Hofstra University at beautiful MCU Ballpark in Historic Coney Island on Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 PM. Then in Northeast Conference play we will visit Monmouth university for a pivotal weekend series beginning Friday.

Handling our Business on the Road

The LIU Blackbirds continued their strong play on the road this season in the Northeast Conference. Last weekend we came out of Smithfield, RI with a series victory against a tough Bryant University team. So far this season the Blackbirds are 8-3 in three NEC road series this year, which shows our teams ability to focus and concentrate on the road. 

Game 1 featured another strong performance from Sophomore RHP Chris Franzese. Chris tossed 8 innings allowing 1 ER. Evan Zerff continued being a rock out of the LIU bullpen, securing his 11th Save after pitching the 9th inning.  Junior C Tyler Jones was 3-4 with 2 RBI’s while Junior SS Drew Walsh added 2 hits and 2 RBI’s for the Blackbirds.

Game 2 was a bit of a different story. With Justin Topa cruising into the 5th inning with a 2-1 LIU lead, the Blackbirds had some untimely miscues in a 9 run 5th inning while committing 4 errors. we went on to lose game 2 10-5.

Game 3 we did what we have done all year, turned the page on a loss and came back strong to pick up a 4-0 victory. Sophomore LHP Matt McCormick who has been automatic in NEC play this year (5-0 1.89 ERA) came through with a complete game shutout. McCormick needed just 82 pitches to silence the Bulldogs and give us a much needed lift and series win (game 4 rained out Saturday).

With the series win the Blackbirds improved to 14-5 in NEC play with 3 weeks left to play. We currently sit in second place percentage points behind Monmouth University. This weekend the Blackbirds return to the Bird Cage to face mount St. Mary’s in a four game NEC series.

The guys are having a great time and doing a wonderful job of playing one game at a time, pitch by pitch, out by out, inning by inning.  Continuing to see this team make gradual strides as the season progresses is great. While the team remains confident in their ability to play with anyone, they have kept a calmness about themselves.  They have been dilligent day in day out with the way they prepare in practice and before games. We have a slogan on our weight lifting shirts, it says “I will beat you, because I will outwork you.”  It has somewhat taken on a life of it’s own with this team and we couldn’t be any prouder of our guys. The chemistry within our team is seamless. There are a lot of talented teams out there (and we are one of them) but chemistry is something that coaches have no control over. You go out, you recruit the players that you feel are a good fit for your program and you hope that they “get it” collectively. So far so good for the Blackbirds but we have a long way to go with our season and remind our guys every day that we haven’t accomplished anything yet.

“Don’t allow complacency to settle in, it ruins greatness.”

It’s gotta be the ‘stache!

The Long Island University Blackbirds continued to keep pace with Monmouth University for first place in the Northeast Conference standings. LIU is now 12-4 in Northeast Conference play after 16 games and 20-13 overall on the season. On a week where the 70′s mustache made a return to the Blacbirds dugout, LIU swept a four game NEC set with Quinnipiac, in exciting fasion.

Strong pitching, clutch hitting and perfectly groomed mustache’s (pictures to follow), were all on hand during our weekend sweep of Quinnipiac.

Game 1 featured a dominating performance by Sophomoreg RHP Chris Franzese (3-0 NEC with 2.13 ERA). Chris went 8 2/3 IP allowing 7 hits, 1 ER with 0 BB and 8K’s. Evan Zerff picked up his 10th Save of the year in a 5-1 victory.

Game 2 the Blackbirds received another dominating performance by Sophomore RHP Justin Topa. Topa threw a tidy CG 7 hitter with 0 BB 0 ER and 7K’s. Topa needed just 86 pitches to shut down the Bobcats. The final score was 8-2.

Game 3 saw Sophomore LHP Matt McCormick continue his strong start to the NEC campaign (4-0 2.13 ERA in 4 NEC starts). McCormick went 6 strong, allowing 1 ER. Evan Zerff pitched the 7th inning in the 5-1 victory.

Game 4 saw a see-saw battle between the feisty Bobcats and the Blackbirds. LIU starter Brad Reimer got little support in the first inning (2 Unearned Runs) as QU jumped out to a 3-0 lead. We came right back in the bottom of the first scoring 2 runs on a 2 out hit by Julian Castro (NEC Player of the Week). The game went back and forth until we finally broke through to go ahead 8-6 on a two run double by Freshman sensation Peter Leonello. Evan Zerff entered the game in the top of the 8th and gave up an uncostumary 3 runs to QU and a 9-8 lead. Our guys came right back and scored two runs in the bottom of the 8th to go back up 10-9. Evan then did what he does best, shut down the opposition. He pitched a near flawless 9th inning to improve his record to 3-0 (10 saves).

Offensively we had a few standouts on the weekend. SS Drew Walsh, C Tyler Jones, RF Julian Castro, LF Peter Leonello and CF Sam Sciamarelli all contributed big hits on the weekend. 2B Brad Greve just continued to amaze us with his clutch play as well offensively laying down one of the best bunts I have ever seen with a 1-2 count and 2 out. It completely changed the momentum of the game and afforded Leonello an opportunity to drive in the 2 runs we needed.

Next up for us is a trip to Rhode Island to play the Bryant Bulldogs in a 4 game NEC series. With this being Easter week, we will play Thursday, Friday and Saturday as opposed to our normal Friday-Sunda Schedule. Bryant has been playing good baseball in the NEC of late and we are looking forward again to getting on the road to play a tough opponent.

Blackbirds fly high at FDU

 

The LIU Blackbirds got back on track this weekend against FDU on the road, in NEC play, winning 3 of 4 games in Teaneck, NJ.

Strong pitching, great defense and some timely hitting were the themes of the weekend for us.

Chris Franzese (8 IP 1 ER Friday), Matt McCormick (5 2/3 IP 3 ER Saturday), Justin Topa (CG 7 IP 3 ER), Evan Zerff (2 Saves) & Emerson Morillo (3 IP 0 ER 1 Hit) set the tone on the mound for the Blackbirds Friday and Saturday. Sunday starter Brad Reimer had a solid effort on Sunday but didn’t get any run support in a 4-1 loss.

SS Drew Walsh and C Tyler Jones continue to be run producing machines at the plate for us. CF Sam Sciamarelli, LF Pete Leonello, RF Albert Faz and 2B Brad Greve all contributed during the course of weekend with some big hits to start or cap off rallies.

Defensively our team played flawlessly with no errors in the four games. When you can pitch it, catch it, throw it and get some timely hits, you can be a successful ball club. We were fortunate enough this weekend to play some good fundamental baseball throughout the 4 games.

Each week, you can see this team getting better and better. The confidence grows with each win and the guys have shown they can win on the road. So far in NEC play, we are 6-2 in two Conference series away from the Bird Cage. Up next we have St Peter’s on the road on Tuesday followed by, a tough home series at the Bird Cage with Quinnipiac University.

All teams, good and bad, have character traits. This team has shown us so far this year chemistry, resiliency, leadership and the ability to prepare the right way day in/day out. To watch this group grow and learn day to day is very rewarding as a coaching staff. Coach Maines tells our team every day that the season is a “marathon, not a sprint”. He also tells them that “the game is a teacher”. So far it is teaching us (coaches) that this team has the make up to do some great things in 2011.

Complacency at the Bird Cage

If you look at the end result of our weekend series against Wagner College, you will see LIU won two games and a split for the series. That is not good enough in our minds to get to the NEC Conference Tournament at the end of May.

Our players believe they missed on an opportunity to win a series this past weekend. At the end of the day, a split is not the worst thing in the world, however winning a series 3 games to 1 gives you the tie breaker with a team. In Conference play, tie breaker advantages are huge. The good thing about this year’s team is, they were not happy with a split, they wanted the win.

Matt McCormick and Brad Reimer did a great job of keeping us in the two games we won (both in walk off fashion). Those are the types of efforts we need from our starters week in, week out. McCormick gave us a complete game with 3 ER in a 5-4 win and Brad Reimer after giving up a leadoff home run, got 23 outs without allowing another run. Brad went a total of 7 2/3 and only allowed 4 hits and 1 run. Our closer Evan Zerff picked up the win in relief.

Tuesday we play a very good Manhattan College team in non conference play, then it’s on the road to FDU this weekend for a four game series in NEC Play.

This week of practice for us is important, we need to fix what went wrong this past weekend and get back to playing solid baseball. FDU on paper may look like a struggling team but they are a dangerous offensive club and have played alot of tight ball games. It won’t be an easy series and our guys are looking forward to the challenge of getting on the road again and being tested.

I have a quote at my desk, it reads; “Do not let complacency settle in, it ruins greatness.” That is our goal for this week, shed the complacency that settled in this past weekend. Our coaching staff knows our club and we believe they will bounce right back.

“We’re going streaking….”

After a tough opening weekend at George Mason the LIU Blackbirds have played excellent baseball. We are 11-5 in our last 16 games and have shown signs of a club that is gaining confidence every day.

We have three juniors and a senior, that have really stepped to the forefront on this team and made guys accountable day in, day out. Catcher Tyler Jones, SS Drew Walsh, 2B Brad Greve and CF Sam Sciamarelli. Common baseball knowledge is you need to be strong up the middle. We are fortunate at this time to have that on our team both on and off the field.

Tyler Jones is off to a blazing start at the plate hitting .479 with an OB% at .562! On top of that, he is one of the best, if not the best (in my opinion) catcher in the entire Northeast. Our cleanup hitter Drew Walsh has been a steady run producing threat for us hovering around .300 all year and leading the team in RBI’s (18). Brad Greve has been a sparkplug for us both offensively and defensively. He is a throw back, lunch pail type player that gives you great effort everytime he touches the field. Then there’s Sam Sciamarelli. Sam has been the best example of a player who is a student of the game. When Sam was a freshman, he would sit on the bucket when not playing and watch everything that went on during a game . Coach Maines has said, that he has been the most attentive player he has ever coached in over 20 years at the Division 1 level when not playing! He would ask us numerous questions throughout the course of a game, always looking for any tid bit to make him better or understand the game at a different level. When Sam discovered the weightroom, he began to blossom as a player for us. Last year as a Junior he hit about .290 for the season but was well over .300 most of the year. He established himself as an everyday player and this year has grown into a force. He too is hovering around the .300 mark but it’s his approach to his at bats that makes his play special. He sees more pitches per at bat than any other player on our team. That in itself is invaluable for a team. It allows other guys to get a good look at a pitcher and it drives up pitch counts which leads to us getting to your bullpen quicker. Either way, it’s a plus for our offense.

Every year Freshman play somewhat of a role on teams. Our team is no different. Peter Leonello (again in my opinion….best Freshman in the Conference) has been awesome so far this season. He has been around .370 all year and has just been disruptive and clutch for us. Matthew Molbury has been over the .300 mark at the plate and solid behind it. 3B Diego Perez has been very strong defensively and also clutch driving in 12 runs in our first 20 games.

The pitching staff has been great during this run as well. Adam Sauter, Justin Topa, Matt McCormick and Brad Reimer have done a great job of getting us into the 6-7th inning everytime they take the baseball. Chris Franzese, Emerson Morillo, Skye Freeman, Jesse Johnson and Danny Iglesias have all been good between the 6th-8th inning for us. I guess that only leaves the biggest (ok not the biggest he’s only 5’7″) and baddest of the bunch, Evan Zerff. Evan is a product of Saskatchewan, Canada (yes that’s far from NY) and he is a bulldog! If there was ever a guy meant to pitch the 9th inning with the game on the line, it’s this guy. He may be 5’7″ but he attacks hitters like he is 6’7″. When you talk about the combination of mound prescence, pitch-a-bility, stuff, preparation, concentration, focus  and understanding your role, Evan is the whole package.  Evan has 7  Saves already through 20 games in 2011. We’re fortunate to have one of the best closers in the Country anchoring our pitching staff.

With wins over Kansas State (Top 20 2010), St. John’s (Top 20 this year) and a Conference Series win over Sacred Heart (wins over Miss St, SE LA and #18 UConn) the Blackbirds are beginning to understand that they can play and beat anyone. It’s an exciting time here in Brooklyn and our players are enjoying the ride.

Spring Break Wrap

The LIU Blackbirds returned from our 2011 Spring Break trips excited about the 2011 season.

After splitting four games with the Big 12′s Kansas State, we traveled to Orlando, FL for the RussMatt Invitational. This is our 2nd year at the Russ Matt and we love it. There is always a wide range of opponents from the Northeast as well as the Mid-West. We split four games in Orlando and finished a modest 4-4 on the trip

Tyler Jones, Drew Walsh, Sam Sciamarelli, Peter Leonello and Tito Marrero all had productive trips for us at the plate.

Justin Topa, Matt McCormick, Brad Reimer, Emerson Morillo, Evan Zerff, Chris Franzese and Skye Freeman all threw the ball well for the Blackbirds.

The Fresman trio of Matt Molbury, Peter Leonello and Diego Perez have all been outstanding so far this season. Leonello imparticular has shown that he is an impact player at this level. Molbury has shown the ability to be a clutch, contact hitter and Perez has shown Gold Glove ability at 3B as well as, the knack for driving in runs.

This week we return home for our Home Opener Wednesday against St. Peyr’s College. Then it’s back on the road against a tough Sacred Heart club in Northeast Confrence play.

Our players are looking forward to the challenge of the Northeast Conference Schedule.

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