COLONIE: Stepping up to the plate

O'Connor has kept several of Bellizzi's traditions intact, such as recruiting Section II players along with players from outside the region. O'Connor has two Section II players signed for next year including Guilderland pitcher Nick Polsinelli.

"We do have some local talent, but we do go outside the area," said O'Connor. "We have a couple of incoming players from Erie, Penn., which is a good area for baseball. We also go to Connecticut, which is another hot spot."

O'Connor also insists his players maintain a good educational standing.

"I make sure that these guys attend class because, like with coach Bellizzi, my No. 1 goal is to make sure these guys are getting an education," said O'Connor. "While some of these guys may go on to major league (baseball) careers, many more will not. So, they need something to fall back on."

O'Connor will have plenty of time to carve out his own niche in the Saint Rose program.

"I don't plan on leaving this program," he said. "I plan on building this program. My goal over the next couple of years is to get this program back to the (Division II) College World Series."

But, Bob Bellizzi's 28-year legacy will never be forgotten. The school is retiring Bellizzi's No. 14 jersey at Saturday's home doubleheader against Assumption, and the Northeast 10 Conference has named its coach of the year award after him.

More importantly, Bellizzi's legacy will be seen in Casey O'Connor.""

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