May 28, 2013


Postseason Success Runs in the Family for Pinzino


By Sean Ryan, CBI Co-Founder @collbaseball


Over the past few months, Jamie Pinzino (left) has seen his wife only two or three times.

There were a couple days in Boston in mid-March. And then a brief visit in mid-May at a softball tournament in Medford, Mass.

Pinzino, William & Mary's first-year baseball coach, isn't going through a rough patch in his marriage. Far from it, actually, as he and his wife are expecting their first baby in August. And he isn't spending every waking hour away from his wife at Plumeri Park, home of the Tribe.

Like many college baseball coaches, Pinzino has a great baseball wife. What makes it unique is that Pinzino just so happens to be a great softball husband - his wife, Cheryl Mulligan, is the head softball coach at Tufts University, which makes the spring a season of texts, emails and phone calls.

"It works," Pinzino said of their unconventional setup. "She understands what it's like to be a coach."

Together, the couple has had a pretty amazing week.

A week ago, Mulligan guided Tufts to the Division III softball national championship, capping a miraculous 46-3 season.

On Monday, Pinzino's Tribe was selected as an at-large qualifier to the NCAA college baseball tournament, the first time W&M has made the field as an at-large and third time overall.

"To be honest, we didn't really know what was going to happen," he said Monday night. "We were one of those bubble teams that it could have gone either way."

Rather than run the risk of bad news spoiling a selection-show party for players, parents and supporters, he scheduled a 1 p.m. meeting. Players either were going to turn in their gear and say their goodbyes for the summer or get ready to practice. Players were scattered around Williamsburg, one of America's great historic cities, when they learned they made a little baseball history.

In his first year as head coach - Pinzino assisted Frank Leoni last season and was promoted to head coach when Leoni was dismissed after a 31-25 campaign - Pinzino led the Tribe to a 37-22 mark and a second-place regular-season finish in the CAA. After falling to Towson in the CAA tourney final, William & Mary, with an RPI of 45, found itself in the bubble discussion with the likes of Florida, Auburn, Texas A&M and Notre Dame - a pretty remarkable accomplishment for a team with seniors who had never played a postseason game, including their conference tournament.

Now, the Tribe has spoken.

"The biggest thing for me, I'm really proud of our guys, especially our seniors," Pinzino said.

Pinzino said Leoni and his staffs deserve a lot of credit for recruiting the pieces to the Tribe's puzzle - guys like senior pitcher John Farrell (11-2, 2.80 ERA, 109.1 IP, 13 BB, 86 K), junior second baseman Ryan Lindemuth (.363, 58 R, 47 RBI, 21 HBP) and sophomore corner infielder Michael Katz (.365, 22 2B, 47 R, 47 RBI), a pure hitter from Northern Virginia.

Like at William & Mary, Pinzino made an early impression on a fledgling Bryant program that was transitioning from Division II to Division I. He was a two-time NEC coach of the year before a disciplinary issue led to his resignation. But his fingerprints remain on a Bulldogs squad that captured its first NCAA bid by winning the NEC tournament over the weekend with seniors Pinzino coached when they were freshmen.

"Obviously, I'm really happy for those guys as well," Pinzino said. "I give coach [Steve] Owens a ton of credit. He's done a great job of continuing to build that program. I'm certainly rooting for those guys this coming weekend."

After losing in the CAA tournament final, Pinzino scanned the country to gauge the Tribe's chances of an at-large bid based on what was happening in other conference tournaments.

"Things certainly weren't breaking our way," he said.

As a team and coaching staff, Pinzino added, W&M felt pretty comfortable knowing it had done all it could and that its fate was left in the hands of the selection committee. And they felt pretty comfortable with the fact that it could have gone either way.

When William & Mary's name appeared on the ESPNU broadcast, Pinzino turned to the person who supported him coming down to Virginia to be an assistant coach and then taking over the Tribe program, ensuring a long-distance love affair between coaches more than 600 miles away. They shared a hug overwhelmed with excitement.

And with it, at least another week of not seeing each other very often.

(photo courtesy of W&M Media Relations)