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.