No one believed NYIT baseball would be any good this year. Not even the addition of a high-profile coaching staff with 40 years of professional experience led by former major leaguer Frank Catalanotto made believers of anyone.
NYIT earned the right to play in the NCAA Division-II College World Series in Cary, North Carolina with a two-game sweep over Southern New Hampshire in the Super Regional over the weekend.
The Bears are a program record 37-14 and will meet top-seeded Colorado Mesa on Saturday (7 p.m.) in the opening game of the double-elimination tournament at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.
The eighth-seeded Bears are unfazed by the draw of the powerful Mavericks, who have a 50-10 record, and captured the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference before winning the South Central Regional.
“Every team in Cary is going to be a real good team and we’re one of them,” Catalanotto said. “We’re playing as good as we’ve played all year and we’re healthy. The team that gets hot at this time of year is the one that will win the World Series. And we feel we can beat anyone.”
Catalanotto said junior righthander DJ Masuck, who had a program-record 12 wins this season, will get the start in the opening game.
NYIT has a 5-0 record in NCAA Tournament games and has one of the top hitters in the country in EJ Cumbo, who is hitting .452 with seven home runs and 23 stolen bases.
“Colorado (Mesa) can swing the bat and we’ll have to keep the ball down and keep it in the ballpark,” Catalanotto said. “We can hit with any team in the country and we match up well with these guys.”
NYIT is hitting .320 as a team and Colorado Mesa has a .330 team batting average with 81 homers in 60 games.