Seventeen Columbians Begin Summer Baseball Seasons
NEW YORK – All around the country, Columbia's baseball players are competing in NCAA sanctioned summer baseball leagues during the next two months. Some have already started their summer seasons in impressive fashion while others will begin play this week.
Tim Giel, an All-Ivy League honoree in 2011, picked up where he left off on opening day for the Green Bay Bullfrogs in the Northwoods League, one of the premier summer collegiate leagues in the Midwest. Giel pitched three-hit ball over eight innings and struck out five without walking a batter in a 2-0 Green Bay win. For his efforts, Giel was named the Northwoods League Pitcher of the Night.
Also pitching in the Northwoods League is right-hander Stefan Olson, an honorable mention All-Ivy pitcher in 2011. Olson is suiting up for the Thunder Bay BorderCats and also started his season on opening night. In 5 1/3 innings pitched, Olson allowed one run on three hits. He walked one and struck out five batters in a no decision after leaving with a 4-1 lead in the sixth.
Pairing up in the Coastal Plains League are Alexander Aurrichio and Nick Crucet. Aurrichio, a member of the Outer Banks Daredevils, went 4-for-5 with a double, a home run and three RBI in the Daredevils' season-opening 24-2 win and is batting .333 through five games. A two-time All-Ivy Leaguer, Aurrichio was recently elected co-captain of the Columbia team for the 2012 season.
Crucet is playing for the Fayetteville Swampdogs and also played a pivotal role in his team's season opener, driving in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning of a 6-4 victory. The Swampdogs have won their first five games and Crucet has an on-base percentage of .500 and stole three bases in a game on June 5.
Pat Lowery will take the mound in the Cape Cod League as he joins the Brewster Whitecaps for the 2011 summer season. The Whitecaps will open their season on June 10 at home against the Falmouth Commodores. Lowery has been Columbia's first weekend starter in each of the last two seasons and was recently chosen a co-captain of the 2012 squad.
Jon Eisen will play for the Nashville Outlaws of the Prospect League during the 2011 campaign. Eisen, recently voted co-captain of the 2012 version of the Columbia Lions, is a former All-Ivy League selection at third base and is among the top 20 all-time in Columbia history in career base hits.
Billy Rumpke will begin his summer season with the Hamilton Joes of the Great Lakes League on Saturday, June 11 at the Lexington Hustlers. Rumpke is a former All-Ivy League outfielder who carried a .352 on-base percentage during the 2011 season with Columbia.
Teaming together in the New England Collegiate Baseball League are Nick Ferraresi and Eric Williams. Both will join the Mystic Schooners for their season, which kicks off on June 10 at the Danbury Westerners. Ferraresi had three home runs and 18 RBI for the Lions in 2011, while Williams batted .269 and earned Ivy League Player of the Week accolades in March.
Also playing in the New England Collegiate Baseball League is Dario Pizzano, who will be a part of the North Shore Navigators for the second consecutive summer season. The Navs will start their season on June 8 at the Holyoke Blue Sox. Pizzano was voted a first team All-Ivy League outfielder for the second straight season after he had a strong sophomore season with a .359 batting average, nine home runs and 36 runs batted in. At the end of the regular season, he led all Ivy League players in home runs and total bases.
Ricky Kleban's 6-4-3 Cougars started their season in the Sunbelt Baseball League on June 4. Kleban did not pitch in a 10-9 Cougar defeat. During the 2011 Columbia season, Kleban posted a 1-0 record and a 4.15 earned run average in five appearances on the mound.
Competing together in the Hamptons Collegiate League, but on separate teams, are pitchers David Speer and Zack Tax. Like Columbia teammates Giel and Olson, Speer started the season opener for the Southampton Breakers and pitched well. Over six innings, Speer allowed one run on seven hits. He walked one and struck out four and earned the win in a 3-1 victory over Westhampton.
Tax and his Staten Island Tide club began its season on June 5 and split a doubleheader with the Jersey Pilots. Tax was voted Columbia's rookie of the year after a 2011 season in which Tax posted a 2-0 record and 3.63 earned run average in 10 appearances on the hill.
Also playing in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League, which encompasses the Hamptons League, is Joey Gandolfo. Competing for the North Jersey Eagles, Gandolfo's team suffered a 9-5 loss in its season opener on June 4. Gandolfo served as the designated hitter for the game and had a hit in three at-bats. He also got the final two outs for his team on the mound, walking one and striking out one.
In the Florida Collegiate League, Aaron Silbar is playing for the DeLand Suns. Silbar has started each of his team's first three games at shortstop and went 2-for-4 on June 4 against the Leesburg Lightning. Silbar played a steady shortstop for Columbia in 14 games in 2011 and batted .281.
Joey Donino and Mike Fischer will form a Columbia battery for the Torrington Titans in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League. Torrington begins its season on June 9 at the Seacoast Mavericks. Donino did not pitch for Columbia in 2011 after recovering from arm surgery while Fischer belted two home runs during his rookie season while doing a fine job behind the plate, throwing out 48.6 percent of potential base stealers.