Feb. 7, 2012

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Nine Innings with Dario Pizzano

By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder

Phil@collegebaseballinsider.com @RoadToOmaha


Dario Pizzano is a junior outfielder at Columbia and one of the top returning hitters in the Ivy League. He batted .359 in 43 games a season ago with 15 doubles, two triples, nine homers, 34 runs and 36 RBI. A native of Saugus, Mass., Pizzano drew 22 walks and struck out just 18 times in earning First Team All-Ivy honors for the second consecutive season. He was named Ivy League Co-Rookie of the Year in 2010, hitting .372 with 12 doubles, 12 homers and 36 RBI.


Pizzano was a member of the 2003 Little League World Series United States finalists. Saugus went 3-0 in pool play before Pizzano scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh as Saugus defeated Richmond (Texas) 14-13 in the U.S. semifinals. Saugus fell to Boynton Beach (Fla.) in the United States Championship Game.


Pizzano recently took time to answer our questions about the Lions.


First Inning – What made your transition so smooth from high school to college baseball?

I think the most important thing that made the transition easier was our team chemistry. It was an uncomfortable and new situation living alone in college. The fact that our team was very friendly and close with one another helped a lot. Also, experience helps a great deal. Once you get over the fact that it's your first college game and get rid of the jitters, you realize that it's the same game you've been playing since you were young.


Second Inning – What did it mean to you to be voted team MVP in 2011?

Being voted team MVP was one of my greatest honors and achievements. Our team had so many important facets to it last year that every person could have been named MVP. It felt great to be thought of in that manner by my teammates and feel like I helped the team in any way possible.


Third Inning – Did playing in the NECBL this past summer help you in preparation for the 2012 season?

Playing in the NECBL was very important for the preparation of the 2012 season. It was my second straight summer playing on that team and the talent in that league is phenomenal. I'd say it's one of the top three or four summer leagues and the success I had really boosted my confidence. I can't wait for this season.


Fourth Inning – Which Columbia newcomer has impressed you the most during practice?

We have a pretty strong freshman class this year at Columbia. They've all come in and worked hard, trying to prove themselves. I feel like there are no spots on the field set in stone and that's a good problem to have. Jordan Serena is the fastest player on our team and he has a good shot at seeing time in the middle infield. Also, George Thanopoulos did really well on the mound in fall ball, so hopefully he makes an impact in our rotation.


Fifth Inning – After opening the season with a four-game set at The Citadel, Columbia heads to California for 10-game road trip. What are your thoughts about that trip to the West Coast?

I'm really excited for the trip to the West Coast. It's good to see where we're at as a team and it helps us gain confidence when we get a win. You can't complain about getting out to play in sunny 80 degree weather compared to the cold conditions in the Northeast.


Sixth Inning – What does Columbia have to do to return to the Ivy League Championship Series?

I think we need to forget about preseason predictions and play the season one game at a time. Last year we returned almost our whole team and were expected to walk right into the championship series. It may have got into our heads a bit and made us a little lax at times. We have the talent again this year and I think we're going to be ready to play.


Seventh Inning – You played basketball for three years in high school. Is there anything you learned from basketball that helps you with baseball?

I learned a lot from playing basketball over the years. The biggest thing would probably be how the will to win and pushing yourself to your limit are the deciding factors in a lot of games. In the fourth quarter when you're tired and the legs are heavy, it's important to keep pushing yourself to get that win. Our Ivy League schedule consists of doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday, so by the end of the weekend you don't have much energy left. You have to push yourself with your teammates to get that win.


Eighth Inning – What is the most interesting thing you have seen in New York City in your three years at Columbia?

I've seen plenty of interesting things while I've lived in New York City. The most interesting is probably the amounts of people that come here from around the world to visit Times Square and the other attractions. Actually seeing the lights and being in Times Square after watching the city in countless movies and shows is pretty cool.


Ninth Inning – Can you describe your 2003 Little League World Series experience?

The summer of 2003 was probably the best experience of my life. I always liked baseball and basketball growing up, but once I played on center stage in front of millions of people at twelve years old I strived to get back there. We played some of the best little league players in the world and did well. That experience made me want to play professional baseball.


(photos courtesy of Columbia Media Relations Office)