April 24, 2014 11:36AM
By Ken Lipshez
WEST HAVEN — Wallingford native Johnny Amendola will continue his education and baseball career at Northeastern University in Boston following his June graduation from Notre Dame-West Haven.
Amendola, a 6-foot, 215-pound right-handed pitcher, considered Marist, Fordham, Maine and UConn before choosing to attend Northeastern.
“I chose it because of academics as well as baseball,” said Amendola, who went 6-3 with a 1.46 ERA for the Green Knights in his junior season. “There’s a great academic history there. If my dream of playing baseball doesn’t work out, I figured they would prepare me best for my future.”
Amendola became ace of the Green Knights’ staff when Greg Zullo tore his hamstring in the second game of the season against Cheshire. He threw 62 innings, walked 13 and struck out 50.
“As it soon as it happened, I knew he’d be out for awhile,” Amendola said. “I was perfectly happy with whatever role as long as it led to us winning. I’m not the type to get nervous. I’m confident in myself. Once it happened, I realized what my team needed of me and had to give it 110 percent. Whenever they needed me, I’d be ready. I was only a junior, but knew inside I was ready to take on the pressure.”
Notre Dame coach Lou Kessler has the luxury of having Amendola back this spring.
“Opportunity knocked and [he] took full advantage,” Kessler said.
“[He] not only helped our team have success last season but helped [himself] further [his] career with what transpired in [his] college signing.”
The Knights finished 16-9 after losing 2-0 to Waterford in the Class L semifinals.
Amendola went on to pitch for the Branford American Legion team that won the state and New England tournaments to qualify for the nationals in North Carolina.
“It definitely meant a lot. It matured me a lot as a player,” he said. “I got to understand the use of my off-speed pitches more. It was definitely a challenge because Legion is very competitive. You’re playing against the best players from other towns. It helped me become more of an all-around pitcher.”
Amendola will be playing for new Northeastern coach Mike Glavine, brother of Atlanta Braves great Tom Glavine. Mike Glavine, a first baseman, played professionally for nine seasons, including six games at the Major League level with the Mets in 2003.