Baseball names seven captains for 2017 squad

Seniors (l to r) Louis Mele, Matt Diaz, Anthony Martelli, Frank Valentino, Elias Martinez, Robert Fiato and Frank Sanacore will captain the 2017 Bears.
Seniors (l to r) Louis Mele, Matt Diaz, Anthony Martelli, Frank Valentino, Elias Martinez, Robert Fiato and Frank Sanacore will captain the 2017 Bears.

OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. — Coach Bob Malvagna has named seven captains for the 2017 NYIT baseball team, which opens play Friday at Arkansas State.

 
"All our captains demonstrate a first-to-arrive and last-to-leave mentality," Mele said.
 
A front-end starter, Diaz's fastball sits at 90-93 mph and touches 95 mph. He is among three starting right-handed pitchers drawing interest from professional scouts, along with Valentino and Martinez.
 
"It means a lot to be recognized as a leader of this team," said Diaz, who went 3-4 with a 4.44 ERA in 2016. "I've been through a lot with these guys, and we've grown together. I honestly can't believe this is my last year with them. I couldn't have been happier to have spent my four years with this team. I'm looking forward to a special year."
 
A durable catcher and three-year starter, Fiato will split time behind the plate with fellow senior Jeffrey Tabares. Fiato threw out 37.5 percent (9 of 24) of would-be base stealers in 2016.
 
Malvagna recruited Martelli as a second baseman, but a void prompted the staff to move him to shortstop for his first three years on campus. Martelli now reverts to second base for his senior season, with transfer Joe Fusco handling shortstop.
 
"The kid will run through a wall for you," Malvagna said about Martelli. "He's been banged up for three years, and you'd never know it."
 
Martinez's fastball sits at 89-92 mph, and he boasts polished secondary pitches. Back in his freshman season, he led the Bears in innings pitched. The 50 innings Martinez logged last season are the most among returning pitchers.
 
"He's a very durable pitcher," Malvagna said. "I'm expecting a lot of big things from him."
 
A third baseman with gap-to-gap power, Mele is a four-year starter for the Bears. He had an outstanding summer showing in the MINK Collegiate Baseball League in Missouri, where he participated alongside Diaz. Mele was awarded ABCA/Rawlings Division I all-region second-team honors after his sophomore season.


Another four-year starter, the 5-foot-7 Sanacore will serve as the Bears' leadoff hitter. He will take over in center field for Joe Daru, who graduated after hitting a team-best .365/.414/.603 in 156 at-bats in 2016. 

"He's an undersized player, but plays a lot bigger than his stature," Malvagna said about Sanacore. "I thought he was deserving of being captain this year. He seems to have become a little bit more vocal, a little bit more involved."

Valentino originally attended Suffolk County Community College. He transferred to NYIT as a junior. He went 1-4 with a 5.72 ERA in 13 appearances (seven starts) during his inaugural season with the Bears.
 
"I think his first year was a little bit of an eye-opener for him coming from a Division III JUCO to a Division I baseball program," Malvagna said. "But he has certainly risen to the occasion. He's polished his secondary pitches — another velocity guy that's above 90 mph."