By Victoria Saporito
Sacred Heart University’s head baseball coach Nick Giaquinto has announced that the 2017 season will be his last after 29 years.
Throughout his career at Sacred Heart, he lead the Pioneers to seven consecutive Northeast Conference (NEC) Championship Games winning it all in 2015 totaling four championships during his coaching career. He also took the team to the NCAA Regional Tournament three times, finishing eighth in the country at the College World Series in 1992.
“I think having an experienced coach is valuable,” said senior catcher and captain Jake Friar. “But possibly the most important thing is having a coach that understands his players. And coach G [Giaquinto] had both.”
Giaquinto began coaching the Pioneers in 1988 after his football careers with the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins came to a close. Giaquinto graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1979. He was drafted to the Miami Dolphins after a solid career. He currently holds the school’s all-time single-game rushing record with 277 yards in 1976. Giaquinto would go on to compete in four NFL seasons and two Super Bowls in 1982 and 1993.
Being a Bridgeport native and a Stratford High School standout player, Giaquinto has marked his legacy in both professional football and college baseball.
“The player-coach relationship is unique, especially in baseball, but I think coach understands his players better than most,” said Friar.
Giaquinto has sent four of his players off to their journey to minor league baseball. Those players include former shortstop Zack Short, along with pitchers Kody Kerski, Troy Scribner and Jason Foley.
“One of coach G’s greatest lessons is about preparation,”said Friar. “That includes physical and mental preparation. Coach gave us the necessary reps at the plate and in the field. He also had a unique set of mental drills that helped us better embrace the adversity we face game in and game out. In many ways this has helped me as a baseball player and it has also taught me valuable lessons for life.”
The Pioneers are expecting to finish this season successfully as Giaquinto hands the torch over to the current assistant coach Nick Restaino.
Restaino has been with the organization for two seasons and has been a tremendous asset to the team. He served as the hitting coach for Southern Connecticut State University’s baseball team in 2014 after being the head coach at Fordham University for seven seasons.
Restaino led Fordham to the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament four times, with an overall count of 196 wins. During his coaching career, he has sent 13 of his players to the Majors and six more to sign professional contracts. He has coached 14 All-Conference players, seven Louisville Slugger All-Americans, and six ECAC All-Stars.
The Pioneers finished their season last year with a record of 30-28, consisting of 282 scored runs in 58 games with 23 home runs, an overall .265 batting average and .346 on base percentage.
The Pioneers hope to send coach Giaquinto off with another championship title while continuing to build their program legacy. After guiding the Pioneers to 608 wins and back-to-back ECAC Championships, Giaquinto will be a staple in the history of Pioneers baseball forever.
Giaquinto, Northeast Region and Northeast Conference Coach of the Year award winner, will tip his hat to Sacred Heart University’s baseball team one last time this year.
“Our expectations are the same as always,” said Friar. “One pitch at a time and compete as hard as we can. Coach wouldn’t want it any other way.”