Beetles baseball: Bazzani's return is bittersweet for Alexandria
It was a bittersweet moment for Alexandria Beetles coach Drew Saberhagen when he told his players that reliever Anthony Bazzani would be joining this team for a second summer earlier this week.
Bazzani was hoping to hear his name called in the Major League Baseball amateur draft that started on Monday and ran through Wednesday. That call never came through the first two days, so Bazzani notified Saberhagen that he would be back with the team and hoped to be in Alexandria by late Friday night.
"Seeing some of the guys that did get taken and leaving his name on the board is a bit frustrating," Saberhagen said. "He probably didn't have the college numbers he wanted prior to the summer up here last year, but when you dominate a league like the Northwoods League like he did, that says something about his ability...It wasn't like he hit 96 one time. He was throwing 92-95 consistently with great command of his split finger."
Bazzani used that velocity to dominate opposing hitters out of the closer's role last summer. He struck out 70 in just 49 2/3 regular-season innings and finished with a 1.45 ERA. On top of those numbers, it was his will to win that was so infectious around his Beetles teammates.
"I remember the look on his face last year when we lost," Saberhagen said. "He was crushed. It meant a lot to him last summer. It's tough to find guys like that who put their heart and soul into a summer league."
Bazzani went back to Eastern Kentucky University and struggled a bit with his control this spring. He had 32 walks to 29 strikeouts but finished with a 3.40 ERA in 42 1/3 innings for the Colonels.
Saberhagen told some of the returning players that Bazzani will be joining the team again this summer when they were on the bus heading back from Thunder Bay.
"I think they started clapping as soon as I told them," Saberhagen said. "Everyone is excited...the guys on the team were confused, as well as I was, but really excited that he's coming up."
All that is left for Bazzani to do now is put together another strong summer. That's exactly what his head coach expects out of him.
"I just feel bad for Anthony," Saberhagen said. "I know he's going to come up here and do what he did last summer and have another great college year and make a few guys regret not giving him a chance this year."
Eric Morken Eric Morken started as a sports reporter for the Echo Press on July 9, 2007. He is a graduate of Augustana College in Sioux Falls where he majored in journalism and minored in history and communications. In his spare time, Morken enjoys hunting and fishing or just being in the outdoors. He is also an avid Minnesota sports fan. Follow Sports Reporter Eric Morken on Twitter at @echo_sports. Read Eric's sports blog, More with Morken at Areavoices.