MONTGOMERY: Prosinski to pitch on biggest stage

MHS graduate starts for Seton Hall in CWS

By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
   A year ago, Jon Prosinski came on in relief against Texas A&M in College Station, Texas, for his first appearance as a pitcher for Seton Hall University.
   The Montgomery High School graduate will be back on the same mound today for the Pirates, but in a much different role. Prosinski will be the starting pitcher as Seton Hall opens the NCAA Regionals against Arizona at 1:30 p.m. today. The Pirates will face either Texas A&M or Wright State on Saturday.
   Prosinski has come a long way since that relief appearance — where he went 3Ð innings and allowed five runs against the Aggies. He’s been the Pirates’ No. 2 starter all this season, pitching seven strong innings in a win over Connecticut in the Big East Tournament last week. He was 6-4 with a 2.11 earned run average in 14 games, 13 of which he started.
   As a freshman, Prosinski pitched in 14 games, 13 as a starter, and was 3-3 with a 4.04 earned run average. He figured coming into this year he would play a prominent role for the Pirates.
   ”It wasn’t a surprise to me this year,” he said. “Last year was more of a surprise because I was not sure what to expect as a freshman and the whole season I was one of our starters. This year I felt as long as I continued to do well I would be back in the rotation behind our ace, Joe Dirocco. He has had an amazing season and most of the year I have been No. 2 behind Joe.”
   Prosinski has played a big role in helping the surging Pirates get to the NCAA tournament. They got hot late in the year to qualify for the Big East Tournament, then won four straight games in Clearwater, Fla., to capture the tournament title. Two of the four wins came against nationally ranked UConn.
   ”It was a great tournament,” Prosinski said. “I didn’t get to go last year because we didn’t qualify. This year, even going to the last weekend, we were not sure we would make it. But we swept Georgetown and went in as the fifth seed. We won all four games.
   ”The first game our offense did really well. Then the second game I pitched and we won in 12 innings. Then we were fortunate enough to beat (UConn) again Saturday.”
   The Pirates wrapped up the Big East title with a 4-2 win over St. John’s on Sunday, securing the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Prosinski went seven innings in what turned out to be a 4-3 win over the Huskies in the second game of the tournament.
   ”It was a pressure filled game and it was a lot of fun,” Prosinski said. “It was great to pitch in that stadium and against such a good lineup. I pitched well enough to keep the team in the game and eventually we pulled it out.”
   Pitching in big games was nothing new for Prosinski, who pitched in quite a few while at Montgomery High.
   ”Especially my senior year with the county final and everything,” he said. “I think that helped me. Last year I wasn’t as overwhelmed pitching in big stadiums.”
   Seton Hall heads to the regionals having won eight in a row and 12 of 14. They are in a regional with three very good teams, but feel good about where they are right now.
   ”The beginning of the season was disappointing,” Prosinski said. “It just took us a while to get going. We started down south like most teams and then by the fourth weekend started to play better. Once Big East play started we never got swept, but we were not winning a ton of series.
   ”I think we started playing better with the weekend against Louisville and were able to sweep them at home. Then we went to Cincinnati and won a series. We won seven of nine to get in and then four straight to get the championship.”
   Seton Hall is the third seed in the regional, with Texas A&M as the No. 1 seed, Arizona as No.2 and Wright State as No. 4. Prosinski is looking forward to the return trip to Texas.
   ”My freshman year we opened with A&M and a lot of guys have been out there before,” he said. “So hopefully the situation won’t overwhelm us. I came on in relief, so I have pitched there before. We do have experience there and that should help us.”
   Prosinski is one of two MHS grads on the Seton Hall roster, as Josh Prevost is a freshman pitcher who has appeared in four games. Montgomery also has two other residents heading to the NCAA tournament — MHS grad Mike Friel has played in 22 games for Connecticut, which is at the Clemson Regional, while Hun School graduate Mike Ford is with Princeton in the Austin Regional in Texas.
   ”Josh has some innings,” Prosinski said. “It’s great to have three Montgomery grads in the tournament. Mike Friel is with UConn and they’re down in Clemson. And Mike Ford is with Princeton. That’s four Montgomery guys, which is nice.”