Division I and II colleges have taken notice, but Amendola is not satisfied and wants to keep proving himself on the Branford American Legion squad.
“I never back down from a challenge,” he said. “The more challenges I get, the better I’ll be. I might fail a couple times, but that will just show me where I have to get better.”
Branford Legion coach Rich Balzano learned just how competitive Amendola is during the team’s preseason training. Balzano said during a drill called pepper, a strenuous workout where players field pop ups, then run in and field groundballs, Amendola wasn’t ready to stop after one turn.
“The kids are dripping with sweat, and he asked if he could come back for more,” Balzano said.
Amendola said he was willing to do the drill again to keep the team from having to run for not completing it successfully.
“It’s a lot of work, but I don’t mind doing it as long as it makes me better,” Amendola said.
And the pitcher has gotten a lot better in a short period of time according to Notre Dame-West Haven coach Lou Kessler.
When Zullo went out early in the season with a pulled hamstring, Amendola was the easy pick to be the Green Knights No. 1 pitcher until Zullo got back.
When Zullo returned, Amendola went back to being the No. 2. On Branford’s Legion team, again he is the No. 2 pitcher, and again he is behind Zullo. However, Amendola is still pitching as if he has something to prove. He is 2-0 with 16 strikeouts. Both of his wins were one-hitters.
“He really understands what his job is,” Balzano said. “It is to shut down teams.”
Amendola could be doing that job for a Division I college after high school, according to scout Ed DiPersio. He runs the Connecticut Baseball Scouting Bureau and also votes in the New Haven Register Top 10 poll. DiPersio predicts that Amendola, a virtual unknown before this season, will play Division I baseball.
“He’s one of the two or three bright spots in the state this year that I didn’t know about,” he said. “He’s worked really hard to get himself into shape. He was overweight last year, but he’s dropped about 20 pounds. He’s in really good shape now.”
He may be onto something, as Amendola got an offer from Fairfield University and has talked to Fordham, Marist, Central Connecticut State and Boston College on the phone. Division II University of New Haven has also shown interest in the righty who possesses an 88 mile per hour fastball, a curve and a changeup.
However, Amendola still has to perform well during the Legion season and for the Green Knights next season to make good on his potential, a challenge he is not surprisingly willing to take on.
“He wants the ball all the time,” Kessler said. “A lot of times you don’t get pitchers like that anymore. He’s a bulldog out there.”