OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. — Right-hander Brandon Alberto arguably emerged as the ace of the NYIT baseball team this past spring, ranking sixth in the East Coast Conference with a 3.02 ERA while capably juggling closing and starting assignments.
Unfortunately, Alberto will be unable to contribute again to the Bears until the 2020 season.
Alberto suffered a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow on June 13 while making his second summer-ball start with the North Adams SteepleCats in the New England Collegiate Baseball League.
Although a date to perform Tommy John surgery has not yet been established, Alberto has an appointment with his surgeon, Yankees team doctor Christopher Ahmad, next Wednesday and the procedure is unavoidable.
"I had felt and heard my elbow pop on the fifth pitch of the game," Alberto said. "I had finished the inning and knew immediately I had torn my UCL."
Alberto, a junior this past season, is on track to graduate from NYIT next May with a bachelor's degree in communications. He now hopes to remain on campus and pursue a graduate degree in that field while returning to the mound for a final season of eligibility with the Bears during the 2019-20 academic year.
Alberto earned ECC Pitcher of the Week recognition on April 23 and was named to the league's weekly honor roll on April 30. He went 5-4 with a 3.02 ERA and three saves in 17 appearances (four starts) this past season.
"Whether it was starting or closing, I owe a lot of my success to my catchers. Specifically, Ryan Kuskowski and I had very good chemistry as a battery due to the amount of communication and preparation we had done together prior to a start or save situation," Alberto said. "Being a student of the game is very critical to me — being able to analyze other teams' approaches and understanding the situations presented. More often than not I would be in favorable counts when I was on the mound because I was able to work fast, establish a rhythm and always be on the attack, which I believe are the biggest things when it comes to success for a pitcher."
Alberto had been expected to lead the staff next spring. The Bears nonetheless will have an infusion of new arms to offset the loss, including prep signees Dean Fazah (Francis Lewis HS), Joseph Keller (MacArthur), Billy McQuillan (East Meadow) and Ryan Mueller (Lynbrook). Clarke product Matt Boyko also is poised to make his collegiate debut after sitting out his freshman season recovering from his own Tommy John surgery.
"Unfortunately, I won't be able to be on the field with the guys next season," Alberto said. "But I will be there to have my teammates' backs and offer any help I can to the guys as one of the leaders of the team as we chase the playoffs. I will be back on the mound again for the 2020 season for my teammates and coaches. The guys on the team know I'll be champing at the bit to be out there again, as they know I'm out of my mind and can't sit still. But the focus is on this upcoming season and being able to do whatever I can to contribute this year to the team even though I won't return until the following year."