Saturday, February 24, 2018
Sports

Plant City pitcher helps University of Tampa to national title

A high school pitching star's dream, naturally, is to one day throw in the big leagues.

But it's smart to have a fallback plan.

And Plant City High grad Aaron Gerbasi is smart.

Gerbasi's playing days ended in the best way possible, with him getting the final out in the University of Tampa's Division II national championship victory over Minnesota State in Cary, N.C., June 1. A day later, he began accounting for his new career, accounting.

Fate smiled upon Gerbasi. Caleb Kellogg, a UT junior pitcher who took the mound in the eighth inning, retired two batters in the ninth and had two chances to get the last out. But the Mavericks got two singles and Spartans head coach Joe Urso signalled for Gerbasi.

On a 1-2 pitch, he induced pinch-hitter Jon Heiderscheit into a liner to second base.

"I can't complain," he said Tuesday from Miami, where the post-baseball portion of his life is already spinning. He is training for a prestigious internship with Deloitte, one of the Big Four professional financial service firms. Gerbasi's focus is on accounting.

Gerbasi said he took off for Miami about an hour after the UT flight landed Sunday, unable to enjoy any of the celebration ceremonies.

But it was all part of that intelligently laid plan.

"Probably around of the end of my junior year, reality set in," Gerbasi said, no trace of ruefulness in his voice. "I always knew not to put all my eggs in one basket. A baseball career is not going to be available to everyone. So I just tried to enjoy my last two years as much as possible."

His third year at UT was actually his sophomore season from an eligibility standpoint as Gerbasi received a medical redshirt as a freshman. This last year, Gerbasi's fifth, he entered graduate school and has one more semester to go (and a 3.61 GPA).

On the diamond, Gerbasi's career didn't go as he originally envisioned.

At Plant City High, Gerbasi starred as a starting pitcher. He burst into prominence as a junior starter for Plant City and finished second in the state with a 0.29 ERA. As a senior Gerbasi went 6-2 with a 1.20 ERA and 84 strikeouts for a Raiders team that finished 13-13.

At UT, he settled into the role of relief pitcher, appearing 18 times with just one start his first full season. In his junior year, he made 15 appearances, Gerbasi recorded a stellar 0.76 ERA.

This year, with the pressure of trying to impress major league scouts off, Gerbasi was able to relax and enjoy the game more.

He was third on the team in appearances (20) and went 2-0 with a save in 28.2 innings. His most memorable outing came in the regional championship game against West Florida where he snuffed out a rally by striking out seven in the Spartans' eventual 20-7 victory.

The son of Chris and Connie Gerbasi, Aaron won't be in trouble away from the mound. Though he is training for his internship in Miami, Gerbasi will return to Tampa, where he will work for Deloitte.

"I don't think I could handle the scene in Miami," he said. "I absolutely am happy with my choice to stay home. I had a great support group. With graduate school I've really learned how to juggle things in the last year and it's been hard work. This is the track I'm on."

Darek Sharp can be reached at [email protected]

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