JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The ever-growing resume for Carson-Newman starting pitcher Vince Apicella rivals any player that has donned the Orange and Blue in the Division II era.
First-team All-South Atlantic Conference? Check.
Unanimous second-team All-Southeast Region? Check.
School record for most complete games in a season? Check.
And the Dillsburg, Pa. native's list continues. Last summer, he was named a Perfect Game Collegiate League All-American. He has accumulated four SAC Pitcher of the Week plaudits and was named the Southeast Region Pitcher of the Week after hurling a three-hit shutout of the University of Viriginia – Wise in the snow this year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Association.
But once you look past what the left-hander has been able to accomplish on the bump, it has been the Coastal Carolina transfer's time at Mossy Creek that stands out the most.
"The experience has been unbelievable. I couldn't have asked for a better place to play. Everyone has treated me so well and just playing with some incredible guys over the years and learning a lot from them," Apicella said.
This year, the Pennsylvanian's nine victories on the mound is tied for second in the league; he also ranks second in the conference in strikeouts with 94, which clears third by nine. He has thrown shutouts against both UVA-Wise and Newberry, while tallying a 6-1 record against SAC foes.
But compared to a 2015 campaign in which he was named second-team All-SAC, the senior had to compete harder for his 2016 first-team all-conference selection.
"I think, this year, I've had to pitch more so than just throw. Some days, I didn't have my best stuff and I had to work around that. Our fielding has done a great job behind me and do made some phenomenal plays to pick me up.
"My experience from playing in the summer last year and me knowing the teams better this year has really helped out; it has helped me know how to pitch them and go after their hitters and what to throw and when."
So far, the highlight of the southpaw's career came in the first start of his junior campaign. The eventual national runners-up Catawba opened the conference slate within the friendly confines of the Silver Diamond Baseball Complex. During the conference lid-lifter for both teams during the Friday game, the Eagles used two throwing errors on the same play to plate the game-winning run in the eighth and held on for the win in the ninth.
Apicella was handed the ball during game one of Saturday's doubleheader against a hungry Indians side looking for to get a strong start in SAC action. Instead, Catawba faced a pitcher that threw a complete game three-hitter with 13 strikeouts. The future Division II Player of the Year in Catawba catcher Will Albertson went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. The Eagles used a solo home run by then senior Bo Ausmus in the seventh to clinch the series with a 1-0 win.
"My best experience would be last year's first game against Catawba. I would say that is one of the best games I've ever thrown and it was a lot of fun. It was a close game. I remember that hit in the seventh inning. As soon as he hit that ball, we all just went crazy on the bench."
Apicella will have another opportunity to add a new notch in his belt when he is called on by coach Tom Griffin to lead Carson-Newman during the Eagles' first game of the 2016 Pilot/Flying J SAC Baseball Championships on Friday afternoon at Smokies Stadium in Kodak, Tenn.
The Eagles are looking for their first win in the conference tournament since 2013 and it could serve as a catalyst to the first C-N SAC Tournament Championship since 2007, which would clinch the Eagles' first NCAA Division II Baseball Championship appearance since 2008.
And that would be the final bullet point for Apicella's illustrious Carson-Newman career.
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