Taconic's DeMartino Commits to Hartford for Baseball
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — In a brief ceremony in the Taconic High School lobby on Wednesday, senior Drew DeMartino signed a letter for the NCAA and delivered a message for his fellow students.
The document in question was his National Letter of Intent to attend and play baseball at the University of Hartford.
The message: Hard work in the classroom and on the baseball diamond allowed DeMartino to get an early jump on his collegiate career, graduate high school a semester early and enroll at Hartford in time to be eligible for the 2018 baseball season.
"Originally scheduled to graduate from Taconic in the spring of 2018, Drew has a unique opportunity ahead of him in that he is on track to complete his high school graduation requirements next month, which will make him eligible to graduate high school in December," Taconic Athletic Director Jim Abel said.
"The opportunity to enroll in college early and forego his senior season of baseball here at Taconic arose from unique circumstances not only tied to roster needs at the college level but also Drew's strong academic body of work. That's something I'd like to emphasize to all our student-athletes in attendance today. His academic body of work includes a 3.9 GPA, multiple honors and Advanced Placement courses and an accelerated curriculum."
DeMartino already had narrowed down his college choice to Hartford from a list that included other New England DI schools when he got the call in early September letting him know that there was a spot available for him on this year's squad if he wanted to make the academic commitment necessary to start college early.
"It took me about three days to decide, and after I decided, I had to take three online courses and one class at BCC to get 40 credits total by Dec. 23," DeMartino said, explaining what he had to do on top of his regular course load as a high school senior.
He joins a Hartford baseball program that went 20-30 last season, one year removed from a school-record 37-win season that saw the Hawks finish second in the America East conference. He will be coached by former minor league pitcher Justin Blood, who coached seven players who have been drafted by Major League teams, including Hartford alumnus Sean Newcomb, who went 4-9 in 19 starts with a 4.32 ERA for Atlanta this year.
"I have a good friend who is there, his name is Nick Dombkowski," DeMartino said, referring to a West Springfield High grad who committed to Hartford as a rising senior in 2016. "He helped me a lot with this. I'm actually going to be one of his roommates. … And the guys on the team have been really good about this. I've met most of them. They're good guys, and I can't wait to get there."
Hartford is getting a shortstop who hit .455 with 29 runs batted in for a Taconic team that went 24-1 and claimed the first Division 1 state championship in the school's history.
It also is getting an outstanding citizen, according to Taconic Principal John Vosburgh.
"Drew is an outstanding student-athlete, and accelerating his education to allow him to graduate in December was actually quite easy," Vosburgh said. "He will be greatly missed, not only by his fellow baskeball and baseball student-athletes but by the student body in general.
"He's a great presence walking the halls, and any time he interacts with one of the teachers, administrators or fellow students, it's always on the positive side. He's a true gentleman, he'll be sorely missed, but we wish him the best of luck."
Taconic's baeball team in particular will miss him and the other eight members of last year's squad who are continuing their athletic careers at the collegiate level -- six in the sport of baseball alone.
Besides hanging up a state championship banner, the Class of 2017 -- or 2017.5 in DeMartino's case -- leaves a legacy of success that is a shining example to area youngsters.
"With what these kids accomplished, it really bolsters the program," long-time Taconic coach Kevin Stannard said.
"Baseball has always been strong in Berkshire County anyway. For kids to see this group of kids go on to college, baseball in Berkshire County and Pittsfield itself is outstanding. If you have aspirations of wanting to go to that next level, baseball is the sport you can do it in."