ANDERSON, S.C. – Anderson University head baseball coach Joe Miller on Friday announced that former Clemson standout and Newberry College pitching coach P.J. Zocchi has been named as an assistant coach for the Trojans.
"I am excited about the addition of P.J. to our coaching staff," said Miller. "P.J. pitched at a high level collegiately and played several years professionally. I have coached against him for several years and have been impressed with how his pitching staffs have performed in all aspects of the game."
Zocchi served as pitching coach for the Wolves for the previous four seasons and has mentored seven pitchers who have earned All-South Atlantic Conference honors, including first team all-South Atlantic Conference and all-Eastern College Athletic Conference honoree Zack Kelly and honorable mention All-SAC recipient Evan Estridge in 2017 and freshman Ryan Harbin this past season, who posted a 5-3 record and notched five complete games. Reliever Robert Westenrieder also earned a spot on the SAC Championship all-tournament team in 2017.
Newberry pitchers set school records with five shutouts and 133 walks allowed two seasons ago. Newberry also had its fifth-best ERA (4.80) and was seventh in school history with 7.44 strikeouts per nine innings in 2017 while contributing to school records in stolen bases allowed (22) and opponents' stolen base percentage (.537).
Off the field, Zocchi's pitchers have garnered academic all-district honors twice, while catcher Jeff Sneed was named SAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2016 and senior designated hitter Ben Herring captured the honor late last month.
Zocchi (pronounced zaw-chee) has also helped develop 11 NCAA Division I and Division II student-athletes as an instructor with Blue Chip Baseball in the Electric City. He is a native of the Bronx, N.Y., where he played for Iona Prep and earned all-region and all-state accolades, while claiming the NYC Con Edison award in 2003. He was listed by Area Code Baseball as one of the top 50 prospects in the nation in 2003. Zocchi went on to play at Clemson and was a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference Academic Honor Roll from 2004-06 and was named a team captain in 2006-07. With the Tigers, Zocchi notched an 11-2 career record with a 3.97 ERA and was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 36th round of the 2007 MLB Draft.
In 2009, Zocchi played for the Oakland County Cruisers in the Frontier League, where he was named a midseason and postseason All-Star in 2010. In 2010, he broke the Frontier League's single season saves record and was named the league's Pitcher of the Year.
In 2011-13, Zocchi split time in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization and with the Lincoln Saltdogs. With Lincoln, he won Pitcher of the Year honors in 2011 and 2013. During his time with the Saltdogs, he set a number of team records for saves in 2011 and then again in 2012, while also setting the team record for ERA in 2013 with a 6-1 record and 1.61 ERA.
"I am truly honored to be the newest member of the Anderson University baseball staff," said Zocchi. "I am looking forward to working with the players and helping them reach their highest potential.
Zocchi will be looking to help guide AU back to the postseason for the second consecutive year in 2019. The Trojans are coming off one of their most successful seasons in recent memory and Zocchi will inherit a pitching staff that accounted for all but four of the Black and Gold's 25 victories in 2018. The roster is expected include more than a dozen returning hurlers, including right-handed upperclassmen Austin Todd and Will Gee, who notched five wins apiece last season. Rising senior Matthew Stanley, who led the Trojan relief corps with five saves, is also expected to return to the Electric City in 2019.