After excelling at Big 26 all-star game, GCC's Liberatore makes college decision
July was a big month for Greensburg Central Catholic pitcher Collin Liberatore.
First, the rising senior shined in helping Team Pennsylvania sweep Team Maryland in the third annual Big 26 Baseball Classic. Then, Liberatore capped off the month by making his college commitment to play baseball at Campbell.
Going into the Big 26 Baseball Classic, Liberatore said his plan was to keep hitters off-balance and to pitch to induce weak contact from the batters.
He executed that plan to perfection, only needing four pitches to close out the first game of the series with a flawless ninth inning.
The next day, Liberatore threw two perfect innings to help his team win 5-0. The senior helped secure the series sweep for Team Pennsylvania by throwing another perfect inning and recording a strikeout in a 6-4 victory on the final day of play.
Despite a multitude of college scouts and coaches in attendance, Liberatore said that he wasn't very nervous at any point during his four innings of work on the mound.
“When you go to pitch, you always have to be confident with your stuff and keep the hitters off-balance,” Liberatore said. “I just tried to get ahead in the count with my changeup and work off of that with my fastball.”
The hitters from Team Maryland weren't the only victims of Liberatore's changeup, passed down from Dodgers legend Orel Hershiser, this month. In the week after the Big 26 Classic, Liberatore pitched a one-hitter for his summer travel team, the B2B Bombers, during a tournament in Richmond, Va.
Campbell assistant coach Chris Marx was in attendance for Liberatore's performance, which included 13 strikeouts, and asked the pitcher to come visit the school.
“We drove straight from Richmond down to Buies Creek, where Campbell University is,” Liberatore said. “We visited the school, I met the head coach, coach (Justin) Haire, and we drove home.”
He said he fell in love with the school's quaint southern campus immediately, but spent the rest of the drive home thinking his future through. Seton Hill and Marist also were recruiting Liberatore, but he said he couldn't resist an opportunity to play for a program that was coming off a NCAA Tournament berth.
“It just came down to being able to play baseball in the south, and being able to play for such a competitive program,” Liberatore said. “Plus, the campus and the size of the school were perfect for me.”
Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.