Rutherford is the home of Felician University, and now it is also home to the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Pitcher of the Year.
Blandino, a junior right-handed pitcher, was named as the league's top hurler on Monday. Blandino put together what the post on the Felician baseball website called "one of the best seasons in Golden Falcon history."
Blandino pitched in 13 games, 12 of which were starts. All he did was lead the CACC in wins (7) and strikeouts (85). Blandino posted a 7-3 record with a 2.28 ERA. In 83 innings, he gave up just 14 walks to go along with 66 hits. Blandino was named Co-Pitcher of the Week three times in the league, including the final week of the regular season.
Head coach Chris Langan wasn't surprised by Blandino's efforts on the mound. Here's what he said in the post on Felician baseball's website:
"With Matt having been drafted out of high school, there was a certain expectation as to the kind of pitcher we were getting. 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."There were indeed big expectations for Blandino. He was taken in the 33rd round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the Cincinnati Reds. Blandino turned down a deal to sign with Cincinnati and instead began his college baseball career in New Britain at CCSU. Blandino had signed a National Letter of Intent with the Blue Devils.
Blandino played for two years at CCSU, then left. After earning an associate's degree from Tunxis Community College in Farmington, Blandino transferred to Felician, a Division II school.
Blandino used much the same formula he had at Bristol Central to be successful at Felician. He combined an accurate low 90s fastball with good offspeed pitches. Blandino ended the regular season with about a 6.07 strikeout-to-walk ratio, which showed his ability to throw strikes.
Blandino helped Felician to a 29-18 record, nine wins better than last year. The Golden Falcons won the CACC regular season title and earned the top seed in the league tournament. Felician opens the double elimination tournament with a game Thursday against No. 4 seed Philadelphia University in New Castle, Delaware.