Sam Falace is still waiting to throw his first pitch for the Niskayuna High School varsity baseball team, yet he already knows where he’ll be hurling after his scholastic career is through in the spring of 2022.
The rising junior lefty who can also handle a bat made a verbal commitment Monday to attend the University of Pittsburgh of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“He’s been to some of the major-type recruiting showcases in the country. He was certainly on peoples’ radar,” Niskayuna varsity baseball coach Chris Bianchi said. “If you go to a tournament, you’re left-handed and you strike out a bunch of guys, people are going to take notice.”
Falace said he has been displaying his talent at showcase events for several years. This week, he is in Staten Island with his Allstars Academy 15U Elite team at a Perfect Game tournament.
“You’re going to be put in big situations. There’s going to be pressure on you,” Falace said of competing in a showcase environment. “You can really show what you have.”
Falace didn’t get to show his stuff this past spring at the varsity level, when the high school season was postponed and eventually canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“He would have been an everyday player and a pitcher for us,” Bianchi said. “He struck out 59 batters in 30 innings on the JV [in 2019], and he’s a heck of a hitter, too.”
Falace said Pittsburgh recruited him to pitch. His fastball was clocked at 89 miles per hour earlier this year, and he mixes that with a curve, slider and change-up.
“They never ruled out that I might get the opportunity to hit, too,” Falace said.
Eight college programs expressed serious interest in the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Falace.
“It’s a great feeling to be wanted,” he said.
Pittsburgh, as well as Stetson, made scholarship offers to Falace, who will turn 16 in late September.
“It’s a big moment in life. It was a tough decision to make, but the right decision to make,” Falace said of his commitment.
Falace made an unofficial visit to Pittsburgh last week to check out the campus and the institution’s recently upgraded baseball facility.
“The campus is beautiful, and I like the city. I like the coaches there. I like the idea of pitching at the Division I level in the ACC. I like what they can do as far as academic support,” Falace said. “I had to look at what was best for me. I didn’t want to make a decision that I wasn’t 100 percent confident in.”
The Panthers baseball team usually plays a couple of games a year at P&C Park, the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“That’s really exciting to think about,” Falace said.
In November of 2012, Kevin Smith, then a junior at Columbia High School, made a verbal commitment to play baseball for the University of Maryland before starting his varsity career with the Blue Devils. Smith was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays following his stint at Maryland and is currently in their minor league system.