Bielak hopes to make impact at college level

Helped St. Joseph’s win second straight GMC title last spring


Sayreville’s Chris Bielak is heading off to Marist College where the graduate of St. Joseph High School, Metuchen, will continue his baseball career.

In addition to adjusting to college life at the Poughkeepsie, N.Y., school, Bielak will participate in a variety of fall workouts and intrasquad scrimmages with his new teammates to prepare for the spring season.

Bielak, who helped lead St. Joseph to its second consecutive Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) championship last spring, considered several other offers from schools such as Seton Hall and Ryder before accepting a scholarship from Marist. He expects to pitch and play second base in college.

“It’s a great opportunity for me,” the 6- 1, 160-pound Bielak said. “The coaching staff has high expectations, and I’d like to make an impact right away. They’re going to put me on a weight program and I’ll have to adjust to what the coaches want. As you progress, you have to work that much harder.”

Impact is a good word for Bielak. A product of Sayreville Little League, he said he opted to attend St. Joseph because of the school’s academic reputation and strong athletic programs. Bielak joined the St. Joseph varsity team eight games into his sophomore season — and became an integral part of a team that won a state sectional crown.

“He began contributing right away,” coach Paul Esposito said. “He showed that he could pitch; he played outstanding defense and he had a few important hits.”

Bielak capped his sophomore campaign by scoring the winning run in a 1-0 triumph over CBA in the NJSIAA Non-Public South A title game. The following year Bielak put an exclamation point on the season by keying the game-winning rally and scoring the winning run in the GMC championship game against Old Bridge.

As a junior, the big right-hander went 3-2 on the mound with an ERA below 3.00, and attracted the interest of Marist, which made an offer that he formally accepted last November. Meanwhile, Bielak also contributed offensively with a .306 average and 17 stolen bases — setting the stage for an adjustment to his batting stance that would work wonders.

“Coach Esposito kept telling me to ‘look away, look away’ because about 70 percent of the pitches you see are on the outside part of the plate, but I always wanted to pull the ball,” Bielak said. “So we opened up my stance and I began to hit the ball where it was pitched more often.”

The results speak for themselves. Bielak, who served as a co-captain, batted a robust .488 to lead St. Joseph’s in that category, while pounding out 40 hits and driving in 22 runs.

He may have been even better on the mound. Using a five-pitch repertoire (twoand four-seam fastballs, curve, slider and change-up), Bielak posted an 8-1 mark, including a pair of shutouts, with 65 strikeouts and a 2.02 ERA in 55 1/3 innings of work. And again he was a factor in the GMC championship game, tossing a 6-0 shutout against North Brunswick and contributing a two-run single at the plate.

His efforts earned him recognition as a first team all-state player.

“Chris is the most complete player I’ve coached,” Esposito added. “He really set the standard for what we want to do with the program. Being first team all state is an individual thing, but it comes from being on a winning team. And Chris is all about winning. He’s a complete team player. He pushed his teammates, he stepped up when he had to, and he set a good example.”

“It was an honor playing varsity for three years,” said Bielak, who also posted a 3.98 grade-point average at St. Joe’s. “Being part of a team that won three championships in three years was a great experience.”