Pirates’ Ponsiglione shines in front of father

For the most part, the Seton Hall baseball team’s spring season has been like a wave, with an equal amount of ups and downs. Wednesday’s 10-3 loss to Monmouth was a down game for the Pirates, but one bright spot was the scoreless eighth inning put up by junior lefty Matt Ponsiglione.

It may have been just one inning, but what made the performance special was Matt’s father, Mike, had the chance to see his son pitch.

After arriving about 45 minutes before game time, I quickly saw a man arrive with crutches. After he got up the bleacher steps, he sat right in front of where I was perched behind home plate. I spent most of the game getting the chance to talk with him.

Mike lives on Staten Island, “about 45 minutes away from Seton Hall,” but is retired so he is able to attend many of Matt’s games. But Mike does not only make the trip to South Orange — he has gone to support the baseball team in Florida and North Carolina and plans to go on upcoming trips to Georgetown and Cincinnati if the Pirates qualify for the Big East Championship in May.

Mike has been around the game of baseball for a lifetime. As a college student, he played for Brooklyn College, and later in life coached softball at St. Joseph by the Sea in Staten Island, N.Y.

Ironically, Matt’s decision of where to play baseball in college came down to the two teams playing in South Orange on Wednesday: Seton Hall and Monmouth. According to his father Mike, “It came down to Seton Hall and Monmouth, but we chose Seton Hall for the coaching staff, the ability to play in the Big East as well as get a great education and because they made us feel like family.”

Mike said that Matt has not pitched much this year due to shoulder issues and the coaching staff wanting to keep him out until he was fully healthy. The lopsided score on Wednesday, though, provided Matt the opportunity to pitch an inning without putting too much strain on his arm.

When he did finally come in for the top of the eighth inning, Mike said beforehand that he was “cautiously optimistic.” Matt threw just nine pitches, giving up a single to Monmouth’s J.P. Walsh before inducing a 4-6-3 double play. After the inning, Mike said that Matt “did his job and that’s the bottom line.”

Despite the loss for the Pirates on Wednesday, there was a bright spot in Mike seeing a successful outing from his son Matt on a team that feels like family.

Matt Collins can be reached at matthew.collins@student.shu.edu.