Written by Robert B. Bonaparte Thursday, 22 May 2014 00:00
Most college coaches want a nice, long vacation after their regular season is over.
Not Lou Bernardi.
Just weeks after concluding his second season as pitching coach for the SUNY College at Old Westbury, the New Hyde Park resident begins his second season as head coach of the Westhampton Aviators.
The Aviators, part of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, kick off their season June 1, when they play the Montauk Mustangs.
Bernardi, 26, who also runs baseball camps and provides private instruction in the winter, is used to the short rest.
“All I do 12 months a year is baseball,” said Bernardi, who played for Herricks High School. “I don’t call this a job, I love what I do.”
The Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League started in 2008 and will be composed of six teams this season. It’s one of 12 summer collegiate leagues in the country that is sanctioned by Major League Baseball. Bernardi says each college player is hand-selected and recruited to play in the league as long as they have existing NCAA eligibility left in their collegiate career.
Last year, Bernardi led Westhampton to a 24-16 record and it finished tied for first place in the regular-season standings. But the Aviators lost 3-2 in 12 innings of a deciding playoff game to the North Folk Ospreys that ended their season.
“It was heartbreaking,” Bernardi said. “It was a series where hits came at a premium and unfortunately they got one more than us.”
Catcher Dan Parisi is the lone returning player from last year’s squad. Bernardi says he’s eager to start working with some of his new players which includes power-hitting first basemen Connor Hawthorne (University of South Alabama) and Zander Anderson (Presbyterian College).
“What stands out for me with this league, is getting to work with Division I, Division II programs from around the country,” said Bernardi, who coaches at a Division III school. “Not just from Long Island, not just from New York, you get to see what else is out there.
“It gets real competitive, and it’s real top-notch baseball in the Hamptons.”
One familiar player that Bernardi will face this summer will be Southampton’s Tim Ingram, who’s part of Bernardi’s pitching staff at Old Westbury. Ingram was named 2014 Skyline Conference Pitcher of the Year as he and his teammates set a school record for strikeouts thrown in a season.
It’s one of many coaching highlights for Bernardi, who’s enjoying being around the game year-round.
“I enjoy teaching what was taught to me,” said Bernardi. “I love the game. I’m a student of the game. I learn something new about this game every day. I just knew that it’s something that I wanted to do.”