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Andruw Gazzola chooses Stony Brook over Louisville

Longwood starting pitcher Andruw Gazzola delivers a pitch

Longwood starting pitcher Andruw Gazzola delivers a pitch in a game against Commack on April 25, 2013. Credit: George A. Faella

Andruw Gazzola knows that many people might think he's crazy.

The Longwood senior officially signed to play baseball at Stony Brook last week instead of signing with Louisville, which has appeared in the NCAA Tournament six times in the last seven years.

Gazzola made an official visit to Louisville -- a baseball school if ever there was one -- and recalled thinking it was "awesome."

But in October of his junior year, about a week before he was expected to visit Louisville again and receive an expected offer, Gazzola verbally committed to Stony Brook, which offered him a full four-year scholarship.

"You could say the coach at Louisville was a little surprised when I told him I was choosing Stony Brook, though," Gazzola said. "I think a lot of people were. But I don't regret it one bit. I expected people to question it, but that's normal."

Gazzola, a righthanded pitcher who enjoys playing multiple other positions, has his reasons.

"Louisville wanted me as a pitcher only," he said. "I want to keep playing other positions and at Stony Brook, I was told I would have the opportunity to pitch and play anywhere else -- except catcher."

The 6-1, 200-pound Gazzola went 3-2 with a 2.12 ERA last season. His favorite position to play is shortstop, he said, and he batted .390 with two home runs and eight doubles.

What also lured Gazzola was the opportunity to continue to play in front of his family.

"My family getting to watch me play is important because they've always been there for me and it made it a lot easier," Gazzola said. "And the World Series was a big sell, too."

In 2012, Stony Brook became the first Northeast region team to play in the College World Series since Maine in 1986.

"What may have helped him be attracted to us is that he's a terrific all-around player, and dual position players like him is something we have had a lot of success with," Stony Brook baseball coach Matt Senk said. "I think our recent success, the terrific education the school provides and us being local helps attract great talent from the Island."

It's a package that also appealed to Massapequa senior infielder Bobby Honeyman.

"We're very excited about Bobby," Senk said. "He's an elite player on the Island. He's a terrific hitter with solid hands and arm strength."

Gazzola said of his future teammate, "I heard he has the softest hands around and he doesn't make any errors."

Honeyman helped lead Massapequa to the Nassau Class AA championship last season, and Gazzola said it is anything but crazy to think the pair will experience winning at Stony Brook.

"Stony Brook may not be on Louisville's level, but it's on its way up," Gazzola said. "I'm very excited and we should be good for years to come."

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