Feb. 10, 2012

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Nine Innings with Evan Zerff

By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder

Phil@collegebaseballinsider.com @RoadToOmaha


Junior 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.

Third 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 if necessary?

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 advantage.

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 Brooklyn?

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 get drafted.

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 Relations Office)