NEW YORK - Seventeen Columbia baseball players participated in summer baseball leagues all across the country, from Cape Cod to California, during the last two months. Returning from a .600 Ivy League winning percentage in the spring, the Columbia players continued that momentum into the summer and several players had outstanding performances in highly competitive leagues.
Senior Tim Giel was one of the Cape Cod League's top relief pitchers in 2012. Named a Cape League All-Star, the first in Columbia history, Giel posted a 0.70 earned run average in 25 2/3 innings of relief during the Bourne Braves' regular season. He notched a pair of saves, including a three-inning, one-hit effort to nail down the victory in game one of a first-round playoff series victory over Cotuit.
In the New England Collegiate Baseball League, senior Alex Black wielded a hot bat throughout the entire season for the New Bedford BaySox. Black started at first base in the NECBL All-Star Game and ended the regular season with a .333 batting average, eight home runs, 35 runs batted in and 10 doubles. Black also made two appearances in the late innings on the mound, as he earned a save and collected three strikeouts in two innings.
Junior David Speer was one of the top hurlers for the Holyoke BlueSox in 2012. Speer tossed a pair of complete games in seven starts. He walked just seven in 47 2/3 innings, struck out 33 and finished with a 3.21 ERA. Sophomore David Spinosa saw limited action on the mound for Holyoke, striking out five batters in three innings of work.
After starting 13 games behind the plate with the Green Bay Bullfrogs of the Northwoods League, junior Mike Fischer spent the rest of his summer with the BlueSox to form a Columbia battery with Speer. Fischer ultimately saw action in 33 games and collected 11 RBI.
Junior Zack Tax had a solid season pitching for the Danbury Westerners of the NECBL. In 12 relief outings, Tax sported a 3.48 ERA and struck out 17 men in 20 2/3 innings.
In the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, sophomore Robb Paller was an All-Star for the North Fork Ospreys. Paller caught fire during the second week of the season and stayed hot until August, posting a .356 batting average with four home runs and 27 RBI. Paller smacked 12 doubles, stole 10 bases and walked 18 times against just 13 strikeouts.
In the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League, senior Nick Ferraresi cranked five home runs and drove in 23 in 25 games. He totaled seven doubles and scored 16 runs for the Staten Island Tide.
Junior Joey Gandolfo was a key part of the ACBL's championship team, the North Jersey Eagles. Gandolfo posted a 2-1 record in seven appearances for the Eagles. He struck 40 in 27 1/3 innings, posting an eye-popping 13.2 K/9 ratio.
Two pairs of Columbia teammates joined up in the Futures League in New England this summer. Junior Aaron Silbar and sophomore Mike Weisman helped lead the North Shore Navigators to the league championship series. Silbar was a stalwart up the middle for the Navs, splitting his time between second base and shortstop. He batted .270 in 43 games and collected 19 RBI.
Weisman carried a 1-0 record this summer, striking out seven in 8 1/3 innings pitched. He also earned two saves in his eight appearances out of the Navs' bullpen.
Staying in the Futures League, sophomores Gus Craig and Jordan Serena played for the Torrington Titans on an everyday basis, helping lead them to a 29-22 record. Craig played 48 games in the outfield and batted .255 with a home run and 19 RBI. He also stole eight bases.
Serena was even more of a menace on the basepaths, swiping 27 bags during the regular season. He scored 24 runs in the regular season and reached base at a .422 clip.
Juniors Enmanuel Cabreja and Joey Donino played for the D.C. Grays in their first season in the Cal Ripken Collegiate League. Cabreja batted .241 while playing 24 games mainly behind the plate. He clouted three home runs and added eight doubles during the season.
Donino was an All-Star pitcher for the Grays in 2012. He threw one complete game in seven starts and ultimately struck out a team-high 50 batters in 47 2/3 innings pitched.
Moving westward, sophomore David Vandercook suited up for the Lake Erie Monarchs of the Great Lakes League. Vandercook posted a .358 on-base percentage with six doubles, four home runs and 19 RBI during the season.
Moving even farther west, sophomore George Thanopoulos pitched for the Los Angeles Brewers in the California Collegiate League. Thanopoulos threw 39 2/3 innings, striking out 29 batters during the season. The right-hander held opponents to a .235 batting average.