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Cal U baseball coach Conte notches 500th career win

| Monday, April 7, 2014, 12:26 a.m.

California University of Pennsylvania baseball coach Mike Conte took his place in school history Sunday.

The longtime Vulcans skipper garnered his 500th career victory as Cal U swept a doubleheader against IUP at Consol Energy Park.

In his 18th season with Cal U, Conte became the first coach of a men's program at the university to reach the 500-win milestone.

Conte was unavailable for comment Sunday evening, but several former players lauded his accomplishment.

“He's a great teacher of the game. He is the face of Cal U baseball,” said Ryan Encapera, who was both a player and graduate assistant under Conte. “The biggest thing is I never realized he coached that many games. That says a lot right there.”

A Brownsville native, Conte was a two-time all-conference outfielder at Virginia Tech still ranks fifth in school history with 43 career home runs.

He was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in 1989 and played five seasons in the minor league system before retiring.

Conte began his coaching career in 1994 at Cal U as an assistant before taking over for longtime Vulcans skipper Chuck Gismondi in 1997.

Since then, Conte has racked up an overall record of 501-342-4.

“He's built an incredible program that's for sure,” said California Area baseball coach Nick Damico, a player on Cal U's 2004 PSAC championship team under Conte. “He's a real positive guy, always upbeat, and he taught you a lot about conditioning, speed and power. Five hundred wins is pretty impressive. I'm really happy for him.”

Encapera noted several current high school baseball coaches who played under Conte, such as Damico, Bobby Saddler at Franklin Regional, and Scott VanSickle at Carmichaels.

One of the best things I can think of is how many high school baseball coaches are guys that played for Mike at Cal U and that speaks well for the future of the game,” Encapera said. “I think that stands out as much as the 500 wins and I think Mike would tell you the same thing.

“I would say if there's something people would say about Mike Conte, he's intense and he does things with a lot of class. He's a coach parents would want their kid to play for.”

Conte resides in California Borough with his wife, Jamie, and their four children.

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbruni@tribweb.com or 724-684-2635.

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