Baseball Players Travel Far and Wide to Begin Summer Seasons
NEW YORK - With June right around the corner, the summer baseball season is approaching. Columbia has 18 players on its roster who will compete in NCAA sanctioned summer baseball leagues during the months of June, July and August.
Tim Giel and Dario Pizzano are part of the Bourne Braves roster in the Cape Cod League for the 2012 season. Giel is coming off an outstanding summer season with the Northwoods League's Green Bay Bullfrogs in 2011 and a 3.83 ERA in nine starts for the Lions in 2012.
Pizzano was recently named the 2012 Ivy League Player of the Year and gained his third straight All-Ivy League first team selection. He batted .360 with 16 doubles, four home runs and 36 runs batted in for Columbia in 2012. He improved his batting average to .409 during Ivy League play, reached base at a .471 clip during the regular season and finished with a .547 slugging percentage.
Mike Fischer will suit up for the Green Bay Bullfrogs in the Northwoods League this summer. Fischer appeared in the Cape Cod League last year as an early season callup and started 25 games behind the plate for the Lions in 2012 before suffering a season-ending injury. Fischer committed just one error last season and threw out 41.2 percent of would-be base stealers.
Four Lions will take the field in the New England Collegiate Baseball League. Pitchers David Speer and David Spinosa will toe the rubber for the Holyoke Blue Sox this season. Speer made nine starts in Columbia's weekend rotation in 2012 and posted three victories. The southpaw finished second on the staff with 40 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings pitched.
Spinosa was a workhorse out of the Columbia bullpen in his rookie season, when he worked 18 games and served as Columbia's closer. Spinosa recorded a team-high four saves, struck out 26 batters in 28 innings pitched and held opponents to a .218 batting average.
Fellow bullpen arm Zack Tax will join the Danbury Westerners this summer. A member of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League champion Staten Island Tide in 2011, Tax pitched in seven games for the Lions in 2012.
Alex Black will play for the New Bedford Bay Sox in the NECBL, rounding out the Columbia quartet in the league. A second team All-Ivy League honoree, Black batted a team-high .370 with 14 extra-base hits (10 doubles, two triples, two home runs) in 108 at-bats. Black also began his road back from an elbow injury and threw 2/3 scoreless innings on the mound in a late-season appearance.
Aaron Silbar and Mike Weisman are also staying in New England, with the North Shore Navigators, who have moved from the NECBL to the Futures League. Silbar was a fixture at shortstop for Columbia in 2012, starting 38 of 41 games he played. During Ivy League play, Silbar batted .286 and scored 10 runs.
Weisman made four appearances on the mound for the Lions, including an impressive start against Fordham. In the late season outing, Weisman allowed just one hit in three predetermined innings of work. For the season, he finished with a 3.86 earned run average.
Craig played in 19 games during his first year and delivered a number of clutch pinch hits while playing a solid outfield.
Serena started 25 games in the middle infield and posted a .396 on-base percentage in 2012. He stole five bases and scored 14 runs.
Another pair of Columbia teammates will be summer league teammates - battery mates Enmanuel Cabreja and Joey Donino for the DC Grays in the Cal Ripken League. Cabreja started 17 games behind the plate for Columbia and drove in eight runs. He also drew 10 bases on balls in 69 plate appearances.
Donino pitched in five games, mainly late in the season and made two starts. He struck out eight batters in 9 1/3 innings and had a strong outing against Rutgers, when allowed one run in 3 1/3 innings of a 7-6 Columbia win.
David Vandercook will compete for the Lake Erie Monarchs in the Great Lakes League this summer. Vandercook played in 17 games and started seven times during his rookie season. He split action at either third base or at first base in 2012.
Fellow rookie Robb Paller will head east to play for the North Fork Ospreys in the Hamptons Collegiate League. Paller appeared in 25 games and started 11 times. Six of his 10 base hits were doubles and he drove in nine runs.
Nick Ferraresi will suit up for the Staten Island Tide in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League. Ferraresi was an All-Ivy League honorable mention outfielder in 2012 after batting .310 with 15 doubles, four home runs and 32 runs batted in. He started 40 of 43 games in right field and led the team with six outfield assists.
Out west, Cory Osetkowski will take the hill for the Academy Barons in the California Collegiate League. Osetkowski joined the baseball team after playing basketball during the winter and registered a 3.38 earned run average in three appearances.
Fellow rookie George Thanopoulos will also compete in the California League for the Orange County Pioneers. Thanopoulos emerged as a key member of the Lions' relief corps in 2012. He appeared in 13 games, posted a 1-0 record and struck out 14 batters in 20 innings.