Nick Chiaia and Matt Zguro are teammates on the baseball diamond and best friends off it.
And, for at least the next four years, that bond won’t be broken.
Chiaia and Zguro signed National Letters of Intent to attend Iona College via baseball scholarships, the Advance/SILive.com has learned.
Chiaia, a three-year varsity player, received a full athletic scholarship. Zguro, a two-year varsity player, earned a partial athletic, partial academic scholarship from the Division 1 Gaels.
Needless to say, the right-handed pitchers are extremely pleased to be joining manager Paul Panik’s squad.
“For me, it’s a dream come true — something I’ve been working on since the 5th-6th grade,” said Chiaia. “It’s a crazy accomplishment and I’m so happy for my parents.”
“It’s been a goal of mine and the fact I’m going to further my education and continue to play the game I love is a bonus,” added Zguro. “It really is a blessing.”
Chiaia and Zguro, who both compete for the Staten Island Orioles travel program, bring contrasts in style to the Gaels.
Chiaia, who throws three pitches (fast ball, curve, slider) is a fire-baller who’s hit as high as 91 on the gun. The Tompkinsville resident, who also competes for Farrahh Scout Baseball, said his velocity has steadily increased since the beginning of last summer.
“I was playing with the Scouts and my velocity had a crazy jump where I was consistently throwing 89, 90, 91,” said Chiaia, noting he had an ERA around 1.00 and with 40-plus strikeouts for the Eagles as a sophomore. “The velocity kept rising and Iona showed interest.
“Coach Panik told me I was at the top of their recruiting list and offered me a full scholarship,” the 17-year-old added. “I have a chance to get time my first year, which is important to me, and I’m going to keep working hard to get ready for next season (with St. Peter’s) and Iona.”
The 17-year-old Zguro, meanwhile, throws four pitches (two and four-seam fastballs, slider, change-up) and hits the mid-80s on the gun, but said his best asset is locating his pitches. With the help of SP varsity coach Bobby Glennerster, Zguro zeroed in on Iona.
“It was obviously a tough year with COVID, so I had to send a lot of video and let (coach Panik) know what my velocity was after every game (with the Orioles),” said the West Brighton resident. “We exchanged a lot of texts. I then was in communication with (Iona pitching coach JT Genovese), sent him video too. He liked (my presence) on the mound, the way I mixed my pitches and believes that things I can improve on can be easily fixed.
“Once I visited (Iona) with (Chiaia), I couldn’t say no and I’m looking forward to pitching on the next level.”
The seniors said their respective decisions became a lot easier knowing they both wanted to attend the New Rochelle school.
“To me, (Matt’s) somebody I came into high school with and now knowing I’m going to be with him another four years, there’s nothing more I want,” said Chiaia. “St. Peter’s is a brotherhood and we really became close over these four years. We’re both diligent workers and best friends and it’s great knowing he’ll be there with me.”
“Knowing Nick is going to be there with me is a dream come true. He’s like a brother to me and I couldn’t ask for more than having him there with me‚’’ added Zguro. “It’s going to benefit the both of us because we’re going to stay on top of each other and work hard together.”
Chiaia is going to study Sports Medicine with an eye toward being a physician’s assistant. He received an abundance of interest, including from Penn St., Columbia, Brown, Villanova, Rhode Island, Monmouth, Rice, Texas A&M, George Washington and Houston.
Zguro said he’s planning to major in either Nursing or Occupational Therapy. He drew interest from CSI, Mercy, Ramapo and Marymount.
Other recent signings
Staten Island Academy’s Allie McGinn (basketball)
St. Peter’s Michael Kehoe, Ryan Kehoe (baseball)
Moore Catholic’s Alyssa Polemeni (softball)
Monsignor Farrell’s Matt Wessels (baseball)
Bishop Loughlin’s William Polanco Jr. (baseball)