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Nine Innings with Evan Zerff
By Phil Stanton
right-hander Evan Zerff of LIU Brooklyn led the Northeast
Conference and set a program record with 13 saves in 2011. Zerff
also owns the school’s career saves record with 15. He posted a
mark of 2-2 in 24 appearances and struck out 27 in 27.2 innings.
Zerff went 3-3 as a freshman in a school-record 29 relief
appearances with two saves and a 3.15 ERA.
A native of Regina, Saskatchewan, Zerff competed
in the 2009 Canada Summer Games and was a member of the 2008
Western Canadian Championship club. He was a member of the
Canadian Junior National Team as well as a member of the 2002
Little League World Series team.
Zerff recently took time to
answer our questions.
First Inning – Did you have a major adjustment
going from high school to college baseball?
In some ways, there's a whole lineup of better
hitters instead of just one or two guys in a high school lineup
that are college-quality hitters. Playing at the junior national
tryouts you get to face some minor league guys and see what the
next level is like so that helped with the transition.
Second Inning – When did your high school
schedule begin and end? Was cold and weather usually a factor?
High school season starts at the end of April and
goes until late June. In April it was pretty cold, usually below
freezing, a couple snow games. High school baseball in Canada
isn't that big a deal. We start our club team around the same,
so it's basically two teams at the same time.
Inning – What made you so successful as a closer in 2011?
I think it just comes from a long time of
adjustments. I always played shortstop as a kid and was thrown
into a late-inning thing and that's how it developed. Soon I was
recognized in that role because my velocity picked up. From
there it was just kind of that bulldog mentality when I'm on the
mound. There were so many more opportunities, especially early
last season, so I was able to convert more saves than in 2010.
Fourth Inning – Do you prefer coming in for
the traditional one-inning save or pitching two or more innings
Being an adrenaline guy, I usually like to come
in for the one-inning save. I tend to burn off some of that
adrenaline between innings. I like to use adrenaline as an
Fifth Inning – What is your outlook for the
Blackbirds in 2012?
Somewhat of the same for last year. Since we went
to the NEC tournament we have higher expectations. This year
we're looking to do more, we want to win the tournament and make
our way to a regional.
Sixth Inning – What were the biggest
adjustments you had to make moving from Regina, Saskatchewan, to
Obviously just the cultural differences that are
here along with the atmosphere. Brooklyn and New York City have
something like eight million more people than Regina. That and a
little bit of the west coast to east coast thing is different.
Weather differences, too. We get the snow a little earlier in
Canada and the time zone change was rough.
Seventh Inning – What was the biggest
misconception your teammates had about you being Canadian?
They always bug me with how they thought
Canadians talked, dropping an "eh" at the end of everything.
Some people think we live in igloos, but basically the talking
with the "aboot" and "eh."
Eighth Inning – Canada has enjoyed recent
success in international competition. Is there more emphasis now
on youth and high school baseball in Canada?
Oh definitely. Nowadays just the level has
improved. We have a Western Canada games and an Eastern Canada
games. Every year that switches off into the Canada Cup. Now
there's a bigger focus on developing players at a younger age,
playing at 15 through the end and you're seeing more Canadians
Ninth Inning – What do you remember about your
experience at the 2002 Little League World Series?
I was the youngest kid on the team back then. I
think when we won I didn't realize how long we'd been away from
home. We were gone for a month and being 11 I was concerned with
not seeing my mom and dad. It was definitely an amazing lifetime
experience. You still see the guys that I played with back home,
some of them are still playing. Everyone stays in touch. It was
a great competition, playing kids your own age from Cuba and
Venezuela. You'll remember it for your whole life.
(photos courtesy of LIU Brooklyn Media