June 7, 2016

A Baseball Metamorphosis

by Cecil Harris

Twenty years ago, a gritty Adelphi University baseball team defied the odds and advanced to the NCAA Division II World Series. That team was reunited on campus for the first time on April 23, 2016, and was honored between games of a doubleheader against New Haven at William J. Bonomo Memorial Field.

“We weren’t the best-hitting team or the bestpitching team,” said Jason Merz ’98, the designated hitter and a sophomore on the 1996 club. “But we were good all around.”

Good enough to capture their conference crown, a Northeast Regional title and a berth in the eight-team World Series in Montgomery, Alabama. Coached by Ron Davies and featuring excellent pitching from Eric Mann ’97 and Christian Kivita ’96, and stellar play from freshman Greg Raynes, the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year, the ’96 Panthers reached the Final Four before their championship dreams were dashed.

“We came into the World Series as a big underdog—a Northeast team that played only three-quarters as many games as schools from the South and West, where the weather’s better,” Merz said. “But we were close-knit team. Every guy cared about the other guys. We took classes together, studied together, went out together. That togetherness helped to make us successful.”

Merz, who helped organize the reunion, owns Metamorphosis Landscape Design in Smithtown, New York. The company name is derived from a book that he said was required reading for Adelphi freshmen: Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka.

The ’96 Panthers’ own metamorphosis produced a team that will long be remembered.

1996 Adelphi Baseball Team

1996 Adelphi baseball team roster*: Tom Alessandro ’97; Danny Broadbent ’98; Nick Clark ’99, M.A. ’03; Peter Connelly; Darren DePass ’98, M.A. ’10; Rich Echevarria; Dave Farber ’03; Mike Ginsberg ’99; Christian Kivita ’97; Eric Mann ’97; Paul Marquardt ’98, M.A. ’99; Ed McCartney; Mike McNamara ’97; Jason Merz ’98; John Musmacker ’96; Steve Ondrus ’99; Brian Pamatat ’96, M.B.A. ’02; Brian Pierce ’99, M.A. ’05; Greg Raynes; Mike Rayola ’99, M.A. ’04; Mike Rockwood ’96; Joe Rotondaro ’99, M.A. ’02; and John Zervas. Coach: Ron Davies
*Listed in alphabetical order.

This piece was published in AU VU Spring 2016 issue.

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About Adelphi: A modern metropolitan university with a personalized approach to higher learning

Adelphi University, New York, is a highly awarded, nationally ranked, powerfully connected doctoral research university dedicated to transforming students’ lives through small classes with world-class faculty, hands-on learning and innovative ways to support academic and career success. Adelphi offers exceptional liberal arts and sciences programs and professional training, with particular strength in our Core Four—Arts and Humanities, STEM and Social Sciences, the Business and Education Professions, and Health and Wellness.

Recognized as a Best College by U.S. News & World Report, Adelphi is Long Island’s oldest private coeducational university. It serves almost 8,000 students at its beautiful main campus in Garden City, New York—just 23 miles from New York City’s cultural and internship opportunities—and at dynamic learning hubs in Manhattan, the Hudson Valley and Suffolk County, as well as online. 

More than 116,000 Adelphi graduates have gained the skills to thrive professionally as active, engaged citizens, making their mark on the University, their communities and the world.

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