LIU alumni Dan Pirillo has been named to be the second head-coach in the past three seasons for the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds baseball team. This hiring came off the heels of finishing back-to-back seasons finishing with a record below .500 under former head coach, Alex Trezza.
Being an alumni Pirillo relates to the team as he said, I think I have a good connection because, “I’ve been where they’ve ate, I’ve been where they’ve slept; I’ve been in those dorms and I know what it’s all about. On that side, they understand that I know and what they’re going through.”
There are six freshmen on this year’s squad who were all recruited by Trezza.
Pirillo said, “When I got the job, I called all the guys and introduced myself, not only the freshman, I called the whole team. I wanted to make sure that they knew that I was going to come here and coach them up as much as I could.”
“It doesn’t matter who recruited them, it doesn’t matter where they came from. We’re here to get guys better and to get wins. I didn’t take anything into affect of who recruited them,” said Pirillo on the six freshmen recruited by the former head coach, Alex Trezza.
“I just want them to understand that once I become their coach, they’re my guys.” He also can relate to both, the returning players and to the recruits as he also went through a coaching staff change during his playing days here at LIU. “Frank Giannone was my first coach and left after my first season, before Don Maines took over as the head coach.”
“That’s another piece I can relate to the guys. The good and bad that I went through can hopefully ease the transition for the guys that are here and the guys coming in.”
Redshirt senior pitcher, Baylor LaPointe looks to continue his success on the mound as he was nominated to 2nd team All-NEC nomination. So far, Pirillo has been impressed in what he has seen from LaPointe during this off-season.
“He’s done a really good job of building off of last year. He’s done a good job of being not only a leader on the pitching mound, but as a leader of the pitching staff and a leader within the team,” said Pirillo on his senior pitcher, Baylor LaPointe.
“He’s taking more of an expansive roll that way, and he’s done that on his own. He wants to bring guys with him to be successful. We’re going to rely on him along with our other guys, but he’s been himself of being a leader.”
With opening day right around the corner, Pirillo is still deciding whom is he going to hand the ball to for the first game of the 2017 season.
“We’re a little short staffed with some injuries. So we’re deciding our best route to complete all the innings this year.”
“We have a guy in mind, but haven’t 100 percent made that decision,” said Pirillo on his potential opening day starter.
As the season inches closer, Pirillo has to decide who he’s going to put at first base. He’s in the process of trying out freshman Sam Vega Fox, junior Dom Paiotti, and freshman Jack Campsmith.
“We’re going to see who really gets after it in the game, who really produces. It’s fun to watch them compete.”
“The more guys competing each other, the better,” said Pirillo.
The Blackbirds are coming off winning the Northeast Conference team GPA award as they finished last season with a 3.257 GPA.
One of the key members of the team who helped push for this GPA award is senior right-handed pitcher Nick Freijomil. Freijomil was named to the 2015 NEC Academic Honor Roll.
With his excellence in the classroom, Freijomil has been accepted to the Duke University nursing program.
Pirillo said, “We’re very proud of Nick Frejiomi and his accomplishments going forward and we’re excited to see what he can do and finish out strong in his senior year.”
“Nick provides experience to guys coming in. If guys have questions on how about to go things, class, and teachers. He’s a great guy to be around, especially for younger guys.”
On this upcoming 2017 season, Pirillo said, “Our focus is to get better than the previous day. We’re focused on ourselves.”
“When we get on the field, we’re just trying to become better baseball players, and try and get them ready for February 17th down in Old Dominion.”