Brooklyn, NY --
LIU Brooklyn head baseball coach Don Maines has announced a finalized roster for the team's upcoming 2013 season. Among the newcomers are six student-athletes who signed during the late signing period. Tyler Bender (Cape Coral, Fla.), Kyle DeMarco (Manhattan Beach, Calif.), Chas Lacko (Farmingdale, N.Y.), Kevin Needham (Jackson, N.J.), Nate Struss (Collegeville, Pa.)
and John Ziznewski (Staten Island, N.Y.)
will all begin their careers as Blackbirds this spring. They join Evan Emerich, Mark Hernandez
and Tommy Jakubowski
, who signed during the early period, to comprise a nine-player recruiting class.
“Our goal each year is to bring in character players that we feel can help us achieve our ultimate goal of winning the Northeast Conference title,” assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Craig Noto said. “We are extremely excited about this group of young men and are looking forward to the 2013 season.”
Bender is a 6-2 outfielder/right-handed pitcher from Mariner High School in Cape Coral, Fla. A two-sport athlete who also excelled in basketball at Mariner, Bender played summer baseball for Prospectwire.com Cannons 18U team.
“Tyler is an athletic two-way player who we feel can make an impact as a freshman for our program,” Noto said. “He is a low ¾ right-handed pitcher who shows great competitiveness on the mound with good stuff. We expect Tyler to contribute immediately as a freshman.”
DeMarco comes to Downtown Brooklyn after spending two seasons at Los Angeles Harbor College. As a freshman, DeMarco hit .448 in South Coast Conference games to rank second in the league and was named Second Team All-SCC after finishing second on the squad with a .323 average while scoring a team-best 23 runs.
“Kyle is a throw-back, hard-nosed baseball player who shows a tremendous desire to make things happen on the baseball field,” Noto said. “His motor is running at full speed every day and we are thrilled to add his energy and ability to our club. He played at L.A. Harbor for head coach Derek Nicholson, who is an outstanding baseball coach, and we feel we feel we are getting a very good player who gives us a lot of versatility offensively and defensively.”
The son of former Blackbird standout and Detroit Tigers' draft pick Richard Lacko, Chas Lacko is a 6-6 right-handed pitcher from Farmingdale High School. The younger Lacko possesses a great work ethic and has a high attention to detail, and is expected to be a contributor for the Blackbirds this spring.
“Chas has grown four inches and gained 40 pounds in the past year, and has really begun to blossom on the mound,” Noto said. “He has a tremendous eagerness to learn and has made significant strides in the past year since his commitment to LIU.”
After redshirting one season at St. John's, Needham spent two seasons at Gloucester Community College and helped the Roadrunners to back-to-back National Junior College Athletic Association World Series' in 2011 and 2012. As a sophomore, Needham hit .385 with eight home runs and 47 RBIs as GCC went 47-11.
“Kevin is another one of our junior-college transfers who will be relied upon heavily in the middle of our batting order,” Noto said. “He brings a wealth of experience and leadership with him after going to two straight JUCO World Series, and we expect him to be a difference maker for our ball club in 2013.”
Struss is a 6-0 utility player from Collegeville, Pa., who attended Perkiomen Valley High School. He was named the pac-10sports.com
Perkiomen Valley Newcomer to Watch in 2011 and a member of the Triple Threat Bearcats that won the ECTB National Championships in 2009 and 2010.
“Nate is a really good kid who works extremely hard,” Noto said. “He shows some potential at the plate and is working to improve his overall game.”
Ziznewski was a standout at Rockland C.C. under former LIU standout and Northeast Conference Player of the Year Joe Zeccardi. As a freshman, the Staten Island, N.Y. native was named Mid-Hudson Conference Most Valuable Player after leading Region XV with a .479 batting average and driving in 48 runs. Ziznewski was also named Region XV Division II Player of the Year and a NJCAA All-American. As a high school player at St. Peter's on Staten Island, Ziznewski was named S.I. Baseball Oldtimers Most Outstanding Player after leading his league in hits, runs, RBIs and ranking second in batting average.
“John is a proven middle-of-the-order hitter who will make an immediate impact in our lineup,” Noto said. “He brings a wealth of experience and talent to our club, he is a true “baseball rat” and we're excited about the caliber of player and person we have added in John.”
The Blackbirds will begin their 2013 season in February. A full spring schedule will be released soon, so check back to liuathletics.com