When Sam Perricelli took over as Niagara Catholic baseball coach this past March he had a lot of question marks and few answers. One of those questions was at catcher.

Who would be the Patriots’ backstop? Did they have anyone that could play catcher? Did they have anyone willing to even try the spot?

Fast forward a couple months and Perricelli has answered his own questions in the form of senior Nick Colangelo.

“I was really worried about that position at the beginning of the year, but now it’s definitely one of our strengths,” Perricelli said. “Nick’s really come a long way.”

Just last year, Colangelo was still spending some of his time in the infield at both first and second base. He never really had a set a position and thus never really put in the work at a certain spot.

That all changed during last season and more profoundly at the beginning of this year when Colangelo spent practice after practice trying to work on his skills as a catcher. He credits a lot of his improvement behind the plate to Perricelli.

“Coach really helped me study the position and get better,” he said. “In practice we would work on blocking balls, framing pitches, the proper technique in fielding a bunt and throwdowns. He helped with every aspect.”

That work paid off in a big way just last week when Colangelo helped the Patriots to their first Monsignor Martin Athletic Association win of the season. With the potential tying run on first in the seventh inning of a key game against Bishop Timon-St. Jude, Colangelo took a high fastball from pitcher Rob Swartz and gunned the runner out at second base to preserve the victory.

“It was the best throw I had had all day — in warm-ups or the game,” Colangelo said. “I guess I got lucky or something.”

Perricelli said it wasn’t luck, but rather the result of Colangelo putting in the necessary work.

“I was really happy for him because he’s put in the work,” the coach said. “Everything he’s done this year, he’s earned.”

A number of players for the Patriots are in similar situations in terms of improvement, which gives Colangelo hope that bigger and better things are to come down the stretch.

“I really think we can be one of those sleeper teams in the playoffs,” he said. “We’ve played all the top teams close, so if we don’t make any mistakes we can be right up there.”

Colangelo plans to attend the University at Buffalo and study business next fall.

Contact reporter Nate Beutel at 282-2311, ext. 2262.


• SCHOOL: Niagara Catholic

• SPORT: Baseball

• GRADE: Senior

• POSITION: Catcher

• COACH’S QUOTE: “Everything he’s done this year, he’s earned.”

— Sam Perricelli

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