RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Felician University junior Matt Blandino (Bristol, Conn./Bristol Central) has been named the 2016 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Baseball Pitcher of the Year, according to balloting by the league's 11 head coaches released today. Also on Monday, Felician 13th-year head coach Chris Langan of Hazlet was voted the 2016 BSN Sports CACC Coach of the Year by the conference's sports information directors.
Blandino, a 6-foot, 190-pound right-hander, transferred to Felician from Division-I Central Connecticut State University and has posted one of the best seasons in Golden Falcon history. In 13 appearances (12 starts), he owns a 7-3 record and a 2.28 earned-run average. His seven wins and school-record 85 strikeouts lead the CACC, and in 83 innings he has given up 66 hits and 14 walks.
"With Matt having been drafted out of high school, there was a certain expectation as to the kind of pitcher we were getting," Langan said. "He met that expectation and exceeded it. He gave us a chance to win every time he went out to the mound. He's a great competitor, and one of the toughest kids I've ever coached."
Blandino is in the top 20 nationally in NCAA Division II in walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) (14th, 0.96) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.07). He is the second Golden Falcon to win the CACC Pitcher of the Year award, joining Jerry Vasto in 2014. He is a 2013 graduate of Bristol Central High.
"Matt pounds the strike zone with a low 90s (mile-per-hour) fastball," Langan said. "He mixes in good off-speed stuff and fields his position well. It's no surprise he's had the success that he has."
Langan has guided Felician to a 29-18 overall record – a nine-victory improvement over 2015 – and the CACC regular-season championship with a 16-4 league mark. The Golden Falcons, who were chosen in a tie for fourth in the CACC preseason coaches' poll, are the No. 4 team in the most recent NCAA Division II Baseball Committee East Region ranking.
"This award to me is more of a staff award," Langan said. "The head coach gets the credit for the wins and the blame for the losses, but our entire staff puts in the work to keep our guys performing at a high level."
Langan wins the CACC Coach of the Year award for the first time. Earlier this season, he picked up his 300th career victory. He is 310-326 overall, all at Felician, including 163-114 (.588) in regular-season CACC play. He was a Felician assistant coach when Steve Svenson was voted CACC Coach of the Year in 2002.
"I'm happy to be doing something I love – I never dreamed that this would be my life," Langan said. "Whenever you have success, and are recognized for that success, it's humbling."
Felician is the top seed for this week's CACC Tournament. On Thursday, the Golden Falcons take on No. 4 seed Philadelphia University in first-round action of the double-elimination event at 9 a.m. in New Castle, Del.
The complete 2016 All-CACC Baseball Teams and special award winners can be viewed at http://caccathletics.org/sports/bsb/2015-16/releases/59POY.
Felician University, the Franciscan University of New Jersey, is a liberal arts, coeducational Catholic university founded in 1942 and sponsored by the Felician Sisters. True to its mission, Felician University welcomes a diverse student population and embraces its educational needs. With campuses in Lodi and Rutherford, New Jersey, Felician University currently enrolls more than 2,100 students and offers more than 55 undergraduate and graduate programs, in the classroom and online, in the arts and sciences, business and management sciences, health sciences and teacher education. Felician University also sponsors 14 varsity intercollegiate sports that compete at the NCAA Division II level.