Step on to the campus of New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) now, and you’ll see many changes for the baseball program. The baseball field looks like a backhoe has run wild through it, and it has in preparation for a new field. The baseball team added several new players from Florida. And there’s a new coach running the show.
Transitions are never easy. NYIT had nearly unparalleled stability for over three decades. Former Head Coach Bob Hirschfield was a highly respected figure in Division I baseball, especially in the Greater New York area. NYIT was a premiere destination for many baseball players, with over 60 ballplayers playing professional ball during Hirschfield’s term.
After Hirschfield’s retirement, things were going to change. Late in 2011, a trio of NYIT Bear alumni (Mike MacMillan, Lou Bernardi, and Chris Rojas) were placed in charge of the team. Despite their best efforts, the Bears struggled in 2012. The coaching trio battled throughout a difficult schedule.
NYIT hired an experienced college coach in Bob Malvagna. Malvagna has 20 years of experience coaching Long Island collegiate and club teams. He served as associate head coach at Adelphi University from 2001-2010. As the hitting and third-base coach, he helped the Panthers to two NCAA Division II Regional bids and five winning seasons.
Malvagna and the Athletic Director Clyde Doughty, Jr. retained Chris Rojas, one of the most knowledgeable and effective pitching coaches in the area. Added to the staff are assistant coaches Stephen Malvagna, Anthony Bonomo Jr, and Vinny Rubino.
“I saw the team a couple of times last year,” said Malvagna. “My opinion was that we needed to get the players involved and believing in themselves and believing in the program. That is probably the biggest, first change that I needed to make, to buy into what I wanted to do.”
NYIT also gave the program another big boost. A brand new artificial turf baseball field, with upgraded facilities was approved. A major financial contributor to the field came from Malvagna’s wide circle of baseball contacts. Construction began earlier in the academic year, with the field expected to be ready for the Bears home opener on Friday, April 5th.
Also new to the baseball experience are new dugouts, a newly relocated press box, new bullpens, a new scoreboard. The team will also be wearing new uniforms.
NYIT, as a team with many new moving parts moving in a new direction, could find consistent and reliable play from almost anyone on the roster. Among those expected to contribute on the mound are 6’2” senior Steven Cotov (Ozone Park, N.Y./McClancy HS). On the field and at the plate, the Bears look forward to strong years from outfielders senior Robert Loftus (Massapequa, N.Y./Plainedge HS) and senior Danny Lackner (New Hyde Park, N.Y./St. Dominic's HS), as well as senior infielders Ali Rodriguez (Yorktown, Va./Grafton HS) and Michael Fermin (Astoria, N.Y./Bayside HS).