WEST HAVEN – The captains of the 2014 Notre Dame baseball team both made their Division I college selections official by signing National Letters of Intent in a ceremony held at Notre Dame on Nov. 14.
Seniors Johnny Amendola and Drew Arciuolo donned the hats of their respective schools they have committed to for the event.
Amendola, from Wallingford, committed to Northeastern University. Arciuolo, of Milford, will take his talents to Fairfield University.
Both players took full advantage of the opportunities afforded them in their junior seasons last spring, which resulted in great seasons personally while helping Notre Dame win its fair share of games and opening the eyes of college scouts in the process. Arciuolo was slated to play right field and bat sixth while Amendola was battling for the number two spot in the pitching rotation.
However, both wound up playing different and major roles on the Notre Dame team that lost 2-0 to Waterford in the semifinals of the CIAC Class L tournament.
As it turned out, Arciuolo batted leadoff and played center field when Griffin Garabedian suffered an ankle injury in the last pre-season game and missed the majority of the regular season. Arciuolo recorded 27 hits in 25 games for a .392 average, scored 27 runs, stolel 13 bases, and had 15 RBI’s from the leadoff position. He also excelled in center field for Garabedian, who now plays at UConn.
Amendola wound up being the ace of the Notre Dame staff after Greg Zullo was injured in the second game of the season. Amendola went 6-3 pitching most of Notre Dame’s big games.He allowed only 17 runs (13 earned), striking out 50 while walking only 13 in 62 innings. He added two saves and pitched to a miniscule 1.46 ERA. He recorded two wins and a save in Notre Dame’s semifinal state tournament run.
Both players indicated that key reasons they selected their respective schools are the academic excellence and proximity to home, allowing family members to watch them play.
“I am extremely happy for both players,” said head coach Lou Kessler, ’77. “Opportunity knocked for them last spring and they took full advantage. They not only helped our team have success last year with great seasons, but helped themselves further their careers with what transpired in their college signings today.”
Kessler added, “Both of them are committed to the game, have helped us win a lot of games, and worked hard to achieve their goal of playing at the collegiate level. I know they will have success at their respective schools and I look forward to what they will do wearing the ND uniform this spring.”
Holy Cross Brother James Branigan, Notre Dame president, congratulated both players at the signing, saying, “While they obviously have great baseball talent, I am equally as proud of them men they are and the leaders they are inside our building each and every day.”
Arciuolo said he appreciates the faith the coaching staff showed in him last season. “I am looking forward to senior season. I just want to win and will do whatever it takes. Johnny and I have been talking about it since we lost in the semifinals last year. We don’t want to have that feeling again,” he said.
Arciuolo said he chose Fairfield because it offered the perfect blend of academics and baseball. He said, “The coaches showed a lot of interest in me early. Once I took a visit to campus, it just felt like home. Plus, I loved their business school. I plan to major in business and the connections they have in Connecticut and New York City were appealing to me.”
Amendola, who helped the Branford American Legion team win the Connecticut and New England Regional tournaments and advance to the World Series in North Carolina this past summer, echoed Arciuolo’s reasons for choosing Northeastern.
He said, “It is a prestigious academic school and I like their five-year co-op plan and they play in the Colonial Athletic Conference, which is a real good baseball league. It’s an up and coming program. They recruited me early and when I visited, I loved the campus, and the coaches are great. I am excited but at the same time, both Drew and I feel we have some unfinished business as Green Knights first.”
While the schedule is not finalized yet, Notre Dame baseball will begin its season with pitchers and catchers reporting for practice on March 17.