GCC’s Liberatore brothers continue family run of athletic success at Division I level
Collin and Jack Liberatore come from a long line of athletic know-how. Their family tree could be a tournament bracket.
The Greensburg Central Catholic graduates took their pedigree to the college level as baseball pitchers in the hopes of following family tradition.
So far, they’ve living up to expectations as starting right-handers at the Division-I level.
“More than anything, it’s the work ethic that our parents ingrained in us at an early age,” said Collin Liberatore, a redshirt junior at Indiana State. “We have a motto as a family: work hard, stay humble and compete.”
Collin is 8-0 this season with a 2.00 ERA and was just named Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week.
Jack Liberatore is a redshirt freshman at Ohio. Like his brother, he started his first 11 games. He is 5-4 with a 3.38 ERA.
Consider their bloodlines: Their parents both played Division-I sports. Craig played baseball at Bowling Green, and Ellen was a swimmer at John Carroll.
Their great-grandfather, Joe Henslor, played for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Grandfather Ralph Liberatore played baseball at Kansas State. Cousins Danielle and Megan Siverling were swimmers North Carolina and Penn State. Uncle Brian Siverling played football at Penn State. Aunt Sharie Rodriguez played tennis at Syracuse, and uncle Jorge Rodriguez played football at Syracuse.
Their sister, Sarah Liberatore, just finished her junior season on the Hempfield basketball team. She led the team in scoring.
Competition was a trait Collin and Jack did not have to be taught.
“It didn’t matter what we were doing, it always ended up being competitive,” Jack said. “Especially one-on-one hoops in the driveway.”
Collin said: “Jack and I would compete in everything, from video games, to hoops in the driveway, you name it. We were always competing against one another.”
Who won most of the time?
“Me, hands down, don’t let him tell you other wise,” Collin said.
The same has been true this baseball season, but Jack might not be far behind. In 72 innings, Collin has given up 44 hits and 17 runs, and opponents are batting a measly .179 against him. He has struck out 49 and walked 19.
He has lasted seven or more innings in six outings. He tossed a three-hitter in a win over Michigan State and went eight innings against Evansville and Southern Illinois, posting 10 strikeouts in the latter.
A nine-inning, two-hit gem came against Valparaiso, and he was a hard-luck loser against Missouri State when he struck out eight and allowed one hit in 7 1/3 innings.
“So far, the season has been great,” Collin said. “Our coaches have done a great job preparing and developing us for each game. Every season has its ups and downs and we have battled through some adversity, but we have bounced back and are focused on keeping the momentum going.”
The Sycamores (32-9, 9-3) were tied with Illinois State for the top spot in the Missouri Valley Conference at mid-week.
Jack’s Bobcats (15-2, 9-9) are hovering near the middle of the pack in the Mid-American Conference. In 58 2/3 innings, he surrendered 57 hits, struck out 47 and walked 28.
He lasted seven innings in a 2-1 win over South Carolina Upstate and went 6 1/3 innings in a 1-0 win over Army. Against Toledo, he struck out eight.
“The toughest challenge for me is limiting missing my spots,” he said. “When you miss your spot, D-I hitters will make you pay. In high school, you can get away with it.”
Pitt was supposed to be Collin’s college landing spot, but he transferred out after his freshman year.
“It just didn’t end up being the right fit for me, but I couldn’t be happier to be where I’m at now,” he said.
Jack has come back from an ankle injury that cost him much of his senior season at GCC and had lingering effects when he moved to Ohio.
He fractured a bone in his ankle during a play at the plate in his final season with the Centurions.
“It was definitely hard sitting out, but I kept a positive attitude through the process and knew I had my career at Ohio in front of me,” Jack said. “So getting healthy was my main priority at the time.”
Jack turned into a full-time pitcher this season after coming to the Bobcats with thoughts of finding a place in the batting order. He doesn’t take any time on the field for granted.
“I think about it as, every day is an opportunity to better yourself,” he said. “I feel the sky is the limit, but I take it day by day and do whatever I can that day to improve.”
The brothers Liberatore won a WPIAL Class A championship together in 2015, Collin as a senior and Jack a sophomore.
Neither of them pitched in 2018.
Collin (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) sat out the season because of NCAA transfer rules, and Jack (6-3, 180) used his redshirt.
Now just a phone call away, they can talk baseball — and life — as rising student-athletes. They have done an about face, from wanting to flatten one another in the driveway to rooting for the other each time they take the bump.
“We’re both pretty similar pitchers,” Collin said. “He has a better breaking ball than I do, but I have a better change-up than he does — at the moment. We’re both always working to be the best versions of ourselves. We talk pitching all the time to try and help each other out.
“Seeing Jack succeed is awesome. He’s put in an incredible amount of work to master his craft both in the weight room and on the field, and I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Jack also is watching his brother’s progress closely.
“I am extremely proud of him,” Jack said. “He’s been a great role model and mentor for me.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .