Written by Vinny Messana, firstname.lastname@example.org Thursday, 13 March 2014 15:01
Whether it has been pitching out of the bullpen as a freshman or anchoring the rotation, Max Schonfeld has been the model of consistency for Molloy baseball. In his collegiate career, which has spanned 3+ seasons, Schonfeld has compiled a minuscule 2.45 ERA, just 0.08 behind the program record, currently held by Chuck Fontana — a 2012 graduate.
“It’s not something that I have ever thought about,” said the East Meadow native. “But to have the opportunity to be ranked that high among all the great pitchers that have come through this program would mean a lot to me,” he concluded.
Schonfeld comes from a family that excels in sports and he noted that his father “has always been a huge influence and supported by baseball career.” The 6’2” ace of the Lions played high school ball at East Meadow, where he was named to the 2009 All-County team. He had the privilege of playing summer ball with the Bayside Yankees, a notoriously strong program, that was coached by a member of the Molloy coaching staff, Mike Callahan. Despite receiving interest from other schools, Schonfeld chose to attend Molloy because “they gave me an opportunity to play as a freshman as well as receive a quality education.” It didn’t hurt that the school was located in proximity to home. “Staying local gave my family the opportunity to come to all my games,” he added.
Despite the terrible weather that has altered the schedule for many spring sports in the northeast, Molloy has been able to get a few games in by traveling to South Carolina for a tournament. In losing their first two games to Merrimack and Stonehill, Schonfeld provided the Lions with the type of outing that teams come to expect from their veteran pitchers. The senior tossed 7.1 dominant innings, yielding one earned run and striking out three batters, which slightly lowered his career ERA.
Although he is firmly entrenched in the starting rotation, Schonfeld had to earn his way there in the early stages of his college career. As a freshman, he was counted on in the middle innings as a reliever. He was trusted enough to lead the staff in appearances with 17, a number that is usually reserved for upperclassmen that have a track record of success. He had the fourth lowest ERA on the team at 2.42, ranked second in the ECC in appearances and recorded his first save against St. Thomas Aquinas.
By proving his mettle, Head Coach Joe Fucarino moved him into the starting rotation. He thrived in that role and started 12 games. He compiled a misleading 3-6 record. The true evaluation of his talent lies in his ERA, which was a very healthy 2.86. He compiled 40 strikeouts while holding opposition to a .255 AVG. Although wins and losses are the ultimate barometer for a team, a starting pitcher has very little to control with their record. Schonfeld did his job — get outs and allow his team a chance to score runs — the rest lies in the hands of the team.
In 2013, he improved his performance even more. His win-loss record jumped to 5-4 and his ERA shrank to 2.14, fifth in the conference. Additionally, he fanned 63 batters, showing he was improving in all aspects of pitching.
This season is off to an even better start, and the team can count on their ace heading out to the mound every week and keeping the opponents at bay. He has compiled five career complete games, which is five behind the all-time leader. His 26 games started is 14 behind the lead, but by season’s end will be down to perhaps one or two. The ERA title is the most attainable, and perhaps the most important for a pitcher due to it directly correlating to the job description of a pitcher.
Despite his consistent success, Schonfeld believes he has improved as a pitcher during his collegiate career.
“In my four years — with my practice and conditioning — I definitely feel that I have gotten a lot stronger mentally and physically,” he said. All that has allowed him to become a complete pitcher and garner strong individual statistics, but the “most important goal is to win an ECC Championship,” he said.
The ECC featured Dowling, Queens College, St. Thomas Aquinas, Bridgeport and LIU Post. Last season the conference was won by St. Thomas Aquinas, who defeated Dowling 9-1 in the championship. Dowling has previously been the champions. The Lions open up their conference schedule against Dowling on March 21. They are currently in Boca Raton, FL and will then head to Carey, NC for another tournament. That is also the home to the Division-II World Series, where the Lions will hope to finish their season in June.