April 29, 2014
By Sean Brennan
Special to BIGEAST.com
In our latest installment of “Touching Base,” we catch up with Seton Hall heavy-hitter Sal Annunziata, who leads the Pirates in a slew of offensive categories including doubles and RBI while tying for first in homers and hits. The Bronx native hits on topics ranging from his years as a championship shot putter at Fordham Prep to his unusual side job that keeps him in spending money in college. We also chat about how much fun it is to be the cleanup hitter in the BIG EAST’s most explosive lineup and we look ahead at Seton Hall’s huge three-game series at first-place Creighton this weekend.
BIGEAST.com: Do you get back to The Bronx much these days?
ANNUNZIATA: “I do. I’m real close to my brothers and my family so I come back whenever I can. I like to get a home-cooked meal from my mom, get away from cafeteria food. But I try to come home whenever I can but it’s obviously not too much because we’re always travelling and playing.”
BIGEAST.com: When you were in high school at Fordham Prep you threw shot put. How does a guy from The Bronx get into throwing shot put?
ANNUNZIATA: “I did. I was very competitive with shot put. I went to the nationals as a freshman and as a sophomore. I was a city champ a couple of times. I loved it. I still love it to this day but once baseball became more serious and then when recruiting process started I had to stop because it’s not really too good for your wrists.”
BIGEAST.com: When you were back at the Prep you tore your ACL in your senior year. What was dealing with that injury at such a young age like for you and did you think baseball might be over for you?
ANNUNZIATA: “I did it in my senior year and I only played six or seven games that year. I missed a whole chunk of the season. But I never had a fear that it would end my baseball career. I was focused on having the best rehab that I could have. I had a real good physical therapist that explained everything to me and my doctor was awesome. In the beginning it was hard but I did everything I had to do to come back from that fine.”
Are you a baseball fan when you’re not playing it or do you like to get away from it from time to time?
ANNUNZIATA: “A little bit of both. Obviously it can feel like work sometimes but I love the game. But I do follow it a lot, I have my own fantasy team but playing almost every day all year round with a short offseason, sometimes you need to get away from it for awhile just to take your mind off it. But I do love the game.”
BIGEAST.com: What do you do when you are away from it?
ANNUNZIATA: “Well, I’m a barber actually. I make pretty decent college money.”
BIGEAST.com: Are you the official team barber for the Pirates?
ANNUNZIATA: “In my freshman and sophomore years I was but this year I’m putting more of my energy into baseball so it’s a little harder for me to give a lot of haircuts. But I do it when I can.”
BIGEAST.com: Is being a barber sort of a hobby for you?
ANNUNZIATA: “Actually no. I’m a full barber. I’ve been doing it for about seven years, since high school. Back home in The Bronx I have a whole clientele. I could work in a barber shop if I wanted to. I’m like a professional barber.”
BIGEAST.com: So do you do house calls back home?
ANNUNZIATA: “No, I have my own shop at home in my garage. I have the chair, I have the whole setup.”
BIGEAST.com: Turning to the Pirates, I see where eight of the nine regular starters are hitting .280 or better with five of them over .300 leading the BIG EAST with a .310 team average. How fun is it to hit in a lineup like that?
ANNUNZIATA: “It’s a lot of fun because everybody feeds off of each other. When you have a lineup like that, even if a couple of guys are not on that day, there’s always going to be some guys that can pick you up. The best part is when we’re all swinging well and we’re all doing our job, it’s just so much fun to play, there’s so much energy.”
BIGEAST.com: Seton Hall leads the BIG EAST in team batting (.310 average) and team ERA (2.95) yet the Pirates are not currently atop the conference standings? Do you think you should be higher than fourth place in the conference?
ANNUNZIATA: “Yes, absolutely. I think we lost a few games that I think we should have won but having said that we’re not really looking behind. We’re just excited to do what we can do and hopefully finish BIG EAST play strong. We can use those losses as a learning tool.”
BIGEAST.com: This weekend there is a major showdown with first place Creighton in Omaha. You are currently just two games out of first place. How much are you and the Pirates looking forward to that series?
ANNUNZIATA: “We are absolutely looking forward to it. They are going to be a challenge but we also know that if we play our game it really doesn’t matter who we’re playing. When we play to our strengths and our style of game it really doesn’t matter who is on the other side. But Creighton is in first in the BIG EAST right now so we’re definitely looking forward to going in there and trying to win that series.”
BIGEAST.com: Are you excited to get to play some games on the field that hosts the College World Series?
ANNUNZIATA: “Yeah, definitely. It will be a little motivating to play there and maybe get back there (for the World Series) ourselves. I can’t wait to play there. I know it’s a huge field but we’re all excited to go down there.”
BIGEAST.com: Personally you’re having another great offensive year but let’s talk about your defense a little bit. You have made just errors this season and have a .995 fielding average. Do you take as much pride in your defense as you do with your offense?
ANNUNZIATA: “I do. There’s a lot of hard work that goes behind that since high school. I definitely take a lot of pride in it especially because as a team we work hard on our defense. I put in numerous hours of work on my defense.”
BIGEAST.com: You’re draft eligible this year. Are you hearing anything through the grapevine about your status and what would be the deciding factor on whether to come back for your senior season at The Hall?
ANNUNZIATA: “Yes, I have been hearing some things and obviously if a fair opportunity came along…I love Seton Hall. I feel truly blessed to play here and to have the opportunity I’ve had to play with my unbelievable teammates. I’ve had an amazing experience here and I still am. Obviously it would be a dream of mine to play pro ball but it would take a fair opportunity for me to go and if I’m lucky enough for that to happen, that would be great.”
BIGEAST.com: With a road series at Creighton this weekend and series with St. John’s and Xavier left in the regular season, can the Pirates do the damage they need to do to still pull off a BIG EAST regular-season title?
ANNUNZIATA: “Absolutely man. I speak for the whole team when I tell you this - we’re not worried about any team that we play. We’re confident going into these last three weeks that we can go in and win all these games and that’s exactly what we’re going to try to do. We’re going to play our style of baseball and I think when we play our style it doesn’t matter who is on the other side of the field.”