MANCHESTER — In the second game of the season, a Wetherfield batter got a base hit to right field and a runner trying to advance to third was thrown out easily.
The throw was smooth and effortless. Yet, East Catholic coach Martin Fiori watched the play from the dugout, holding his breath.
The longtime coach didn’t need his ace, coming off a 16 strikeout one-hitter two days before, airing out his arm in the outfield.
“I was like alright, no more of that,” Fiori said with a laugh. “Grab a bat, you’re DH-ing.”
The player laughed when looking back on the play, claiming it was a good play and “pretty cool.”
That’s Frank Mozzicato.The intimidating 6-foot-2 lefty stares his opponents down before every pitch, knowing their chances of collecting a hit are rare, but he is never afraid to laugh and have fun playing the game he loves.
“He is the guy in the circle that tells everyone to have fun today,” Fiori said.
His fastball sits between 91 and 92 miles per hour, his curveball “drops off the table” and he is incorporating a changeup into his arsenal.
He is 3-0 this season, striking out 41 batters in 17 innings — 16.8 strikeouts per 7 innings — with a 0.41 ERA.
2021 LHP Frank Mozzicato (CT) is an early riser this spring in New England & he’s dominating again today with 5 strike outs in first 3 innings, topping out at 92 mph. #UConn commit. #PGDraft pic.twitter.com/3ZMwGjPafv
— Perfect Game Scout (@PG_Scouting) April 26, 2021
Fiori said Mozzicato has one of the best bats on the team, can play anywhere in the outfield, or just as easily start at first base.
The senior, committed to play at UConn and a prospect n the upcoming Major League Baseball draft, draws dozens of scouts to each of his games. Even his off-day bullpen sessions draw scouts.
“We’ve had to take down wind screens at our home field because there isn’t enough room for them with the radar guns,” Fiori said. “He has been able to embrace the limelight and we look at it that it is more nerve wrecking for the other pitcher.”
Mozzicato, who lives in Ellington, admits he was nervous the first time he pitched in front of scouts, but now it’s the new normal.
“You just have to go do you, I am not really pitching for them,” Mozzicato said. “I am pitching for the guys behind me and trying to do what I can the best to win.”
After missing his junior season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mozzicato set lofty goals for his senior year, including posting a 0.00 ERA.
That might make Mozzicato sound overly confident, but in reality he just wants to be like his brother.
“He always said that he was going to tie me,” said Anthony Mozzicato, a starting pitcher at Central Connecticut.
Mozzicato allowed an earned run in his first start of the year and when the game was over he heard from his brother.
“It’s not as easy it looks,” Anthony Mozzicato said with a laugh.
Frank Mozzicato struck out 16 batters in 5.1 innings in his debut
At least 20 scouts were on hand to watch the UConn commit.
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) April 20, 2021
Anthony Mozzicato was the top pitcher for the Eagles two years ago, playing alongside his brother.
Mozzicatio credits his older brother for being his first pitching coach, back when they would play in the backyard.
“It was a lot of working on different pitching grips,” Anthony Mozzicato said. “I always told him that pitching is easy when you go (send them down) one-two-three. But when there are guys on and they get hits, that’s when it gets tough, that’s when you become a pitcher.”
Mozzicato lights up the radar gun with his fastball, but it’s his curveball that keeps opponents off balance.
“It’s something you don’t get to experience every day,” East Catholic senior catcher Hank Penders said. “Guys (Monday) were saying that has to be unhittable. I couldn’t hit it, it’s tough enough catching it.”
Penders and Mozzicato have been friends since before high school. Mozzicato would go to East Catholic games to watch his brother and Penders would go with his dad — UConn baseball coach Jim Penders — and his grandfather Jim Penders — longtime East Catholic coach.
They played junior varsity baseball together and in Penders’ first game catching varsity, he caught Mozzicato.
The two hang out together, but since Mozzicato committed to UConn to play for Penders’ dad Jim, some things have changed.
“I can’t really go to his house,” Mozzicato said, citing potential NCAA rules. “It’s kind of funny, we joke about it.”
Mozzicato grew up a UConn fan and has helped out when the East Catholic baseball program volunteers at the UConn football games.
UConn was always his top choice and as soon as he was offered a scholarship he said he accepted on the spot.
“It’s really cool that more and more kids are starting to go to UConn from Connecticut,” Mozzicato said. “It’s really cool seeing all these Connecticut guys playing a high level of baseball, it shows the rest of the country that Connecticut has some good guys out here.”
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