The members of the Youngstown State baseball team welcomed a crowd of nearly 150 fans to the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church Banquet Hall on Saturday morning for its second annual "First Pitch" Breakfast.
The event is the unofficial start to the 2012 YSU baseball season which gets underway on Friday, Feb. 17 against Canisius in Cary, N.C.
YSU President Dr. Cynthia Anderson said she was proud of the student-athletes for their efforts on the field and and off the field. She said that being a part of the baseball program gives the Penguins experience in team work, how to manage priorities, deal with time management and overcoming adversity. She was the Penguins best of luck on their 2012 campaign.
Master of Ceremonies Robb Schmidt introduced the players by class. He announced an interesting fact and the hometown of each player in attendance. Schmidt had fun with the freshmen at the expense of Nick DiBartolomeo. Schmidt had problems mentioning his name and DiBartolomeo come up front and help him with the pronunciation. He then asked the freshman pitcher about his plans for the upcoming campaign and received laughs for calling him Nick D.
Schmidt then introduced the sophomores and juniors before having the Guins' two seniors - Jeremy Banks and David Leon - come up to speak to the crowd. Both players spoke about the fact that their senior season was very important to them and the team's goal is to win the Horizon League Championship.
Fifth-season Head Coach Rich Pasquale featured a wide range of emotions during his speech. He thanked Dr. Anderson for her attendance at the event and said he appreciated all the hard work of Athletic Director Ron Strollo and baseball supervisor and assistant athletic director Tom Morella for all the support they give the program. He thanked Frank Frattaroli for his efforts in organizing the event.
Pasquale was emotional when talking about the importance of his family. His wife and son were not in attendance due to a rescheduling of a previous engagement, but his two daughters and parents were there. Also part of the event was former Major Leaguer and Cleveland Indians great Tito Francona.
Pasquale raved about the team's success in the classroom in the fall and said the players that make up the 2012 squad have good character and want to win. He also said they want to learn and be successful and that's what can carry the program to a good season.
He also announced that Banks and junior pitcher Kevin McCullough have been selected as the 2012 team captains.
Chinese Auction items included YSU baseball attire, gift baskets from Belleria Pizza and Italian Restaurant and Cassese's MVR, autographed YSU baseball memorabilia, Major League Baseball autographed baseballs and photos, and the opportunity to spend pre-game in the Penguins dugout and throw out the first pitch of a contest at Eastwood Field.
The "Home Run" prize which includes dinner for four at the Belleria in Boardman with the YSU Coaching Staff, four YSU baseball season tickets, four YSU baseball hats and pullovers and the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at any YSU home game was won by Janelle Fumerola.
Schmidt had fun with the prize winners and had some fun with Pasquale to conclude the event.