RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Former Felician College baseball player Brian Dudzinski (Lincroft, N.J./Middletown South) recently signed a professional contract with the Las Cruces (N.M.) Vaqueros of the independent Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs.
Dudzinski, a 23-year-old right-handed pitcher, played for Felician in 2012 after transferring from Furman University. He was elected to the all-Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference first team after posting a 5-5 record, a save, a 2.39 earned-run average and a .166 opponent batting average in 71 2/3 innings. Dudzinski set school records for strikeouts in a game (14) and season (76) in helping the Golden Falcons to the CACC regular-season championship.
On July 1, he was the winning pitcher in his professional debut for Las Cruces.
"Baseball has given me so many opportunities to meet different people and see different places, and signing a professional contract was another special moment," Dudzinski said recently via e-mail. "I made my first start just two days after I flew out here. Full of excitement and nerves, I was able to pitch eight strong innings and earn the win and the respect of my teammates."
Through July 12, Dudzinski was 2-0 in two starts for the Vaqueros, with 17 hits allowed, nine strikeouts and two walks in 13 innings. He was scheduled to pitch again on the 14th. He will have entered that start with an ERA of 6.23, but life is not easy for a pitcher in the Pecos League.
"This league is different baseball than I'm used to," Dudzinski said. "It's hot days, high elevation and a very good-hitting league. I've never seen so many home runs. Obviously I would have loved to have gotten a shot with an affiliated team, but I was not going to let myself get down over it not happening. I was realistic going into the process and ultimately am happy where I am. I do not know where I will go from here but sure am excited to find out."
Dudzinski, a 2007 graduate of Middletown High School South, is the 10th former Felician baseball player to sign a professional contract. A Golden Falcon teammate, pitcher D.J. Stinsman (Egg Harbor Township, N.J./EHT) is also currently toiling in the Pecos League for the Roswell (N.M.) Invaders. The complete list can be viewed at http://www.felicianathletics.com/sports/bsb/archive/pros.
"I'm very happy for Brian and I'm certain he'll be successful," said nine-year Felician head coach Chris Langan. "His ability to add to and subtract from his pitches will be a huge asset at that level. He's certainly a guy that should garner more attention from this experience. He's got both the stuff and the makeup to compete."