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BIG EAST Announces 2012-13 Academic All-Stars

The BIG EAST Conference on Wednesday announced that 171 Seton Hall student-athletes have been named BIG EAST Academic All-Stars. The figure reflects 73 percent of the Seton Hall student-athlete population from 2012-13.

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Grilli Excelling as a Pirate Again

Jason Grilli's baseball career has come full circle. The hard-throwing right-handed pitcher enjoyed enormous success as the ace of the Seton Hall Pirates' pitching staff in the late-1990s, and now at the age of 36, Grilli is seeing his greatest success as a professional, again for the Pirates. After playing 16 professional seasons for nine different franchises, Grilli has excelled as the closer for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013.

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Rob Sheppard

 

Head Coach: Seton Hall University

Rob Sheppard was named the head coach of the Seton Hall baseball program on June 30, 2004, becoming the 17th head coach in the history of the baseball program, and just the third since 1948. He inherited a winning tradition and legacy left by his father, Mike Sheppard, Sr., who won 998 games in 31 years as coach from 1973-2003.

Rob is no stranger to the Seton Hall program, having served as an assistant coach for nine seasons under Mike, Sr. After seven seasons as top assistant to his father, Rob was promoted to associate head coach during the summer of 2001.

Sheppard has built an experienced coaching staff that includes former Seton Hall pitcher Phil Cundari, Pirate standout Mark Pappas, as well as former professional Eric Duncan.

Seton Hall is coming off its second consecutive 34-win season and BIG EAST Tournament berth. Its 17 conference victories were the most since the 2000 season and were enough to earn the #3 seed in the BIG EAST Tournament. Along the way, Sheppard's squad won series' on the road against regular season champion Louisville, and tournament champion St. John's.

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Mike Sheppard

 

Head Coach Emeritus: Seton Hall University

In 31 years as head coach at Seton Hall from 1973-2003, Sheppard recorded 28 winning seasons and 27 postseason berths, highlighted by 15 BIG EAST Tournament appearances. He was named the BIG EAST Coach of the Year three times (1985, 1987, and 1989), and guided the Pirates to the conference tournament title in 1987. Sheppard's squads reached the NCAA Tournament 12 times while he led Seton Hall to appearances in the College World Series in 1974 and 1975.

Under Sheppard's tutelage, the Pirates won 20 or more games 30 times, 30 or more games 22 times, and 40 or more games five times. He holds a career record of 998-540-11 and ranks in the top 75 on the list of NCAA's all-time winningest coaches (by victories).

During his tenure, more than 80 Seton Hall players have gone on to sign professional contracts, with 30 of them moving on to play in the major leagues. He coached John Valentin to a fifth round draft pick plus eight first round draft picks that consisted of such stars as Craig Biggio, Rick Cerone, Jason Grilli, Matt Morris, Mo Vaughn, and John Valentin.

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Phil Cundari

 

Associate Head Coach: Seton Hall University

Phil Cundari is entering his 14th season on the coaching staff at Seton Hall University, and the third as its Associate Head Coach. The long-time Pirates' pitching coach was promoted in October of 2011.

Last season, Cundari led the Seton Hall pitching staff to the second-best ERA and opponent batting average in the BIG EAST. Seniors Jon Prosinski and Greg Terhune had successful seasons as the Pirates' Friday and Saturday starters respectively. Both finished among the conference's top-7 in opponent battinga average with Terhune also ranking fifth with a 2.33 ERA. Prosinski was named to the All-BIG EAST First Team for a second straight year and NJCBA Pitcher of the Year. Junior closer Brian Gilbert was named to the All-BIG EAST Third Team and NJCBA Fireman of the Year.

In 2012, Cundari's pitching staff was again amongst the best in the BIG EAST Conference. Ryan Harvey, the team's Saturday starter, was drafted by the Texas Rangers.Cundari alsoreceived the "Distinguised Service to College Baseball" award from the New Jersey Sports Writer's Association.

Cundari'spromotion to Associate Head Coach came on the heels of a tremendous 2011 season in which the program won its second BIG EAST Championship in Cundari's tenure. Cundari's pitching staff, led by a pair of aces in Joe DiRocco and Jon Prosinski, led the conference in earned run average and was second in strikeouts, opponent batting average, innings pitched and hits allowed. DiRocco was named Most Outstanding Player of the BIG EAST Championship and became the first Pirate to receive ABCA All-America honors since 1997. Additionally, DiRocco and Prosinski finished the season with the only two sub-2.00 ERAs among all starters in the BIG EAST.

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Mark Pappas

 

Assistant Coach: Seton Hall University

Former Pirates' standout, Mark Pappas, is entering his fourth season on Rob Sheppard's coaching staff. In October of 2011, he was promoted to assistant coach after serving one year as a volunteer assistant coach.

Assisting the student-athletes primarily with hitting and fielding, which were strengths of Pappas' game as a player, he earned a ring as Seton Hall won the 2011 BIG EAST Championship.

In 2011, Pappas managed the Monmouth Monarchs of the Atlantic Baseball Confederation Collegiate League to its first-ever league championship.

It's his eighth season overall as a member of the Pirates family. A graduate from Seton Hall University, Mark played for the Sheppard from 2005-08. He graduated from the team a career .290 hitter with 101 runs scored, 92 RBI, 34 doubles, three triples, and 13 home runs.

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Eric Duncan

 

Assistant Coach: Seton Hall University

Eric Duncan enters his second year on Rob Sheppard's staff as its Volunteer Assistant Coach after joiningthe teamin August, 2012, after wrapping up a 10-year professional baseball career.

Workiing closely with the Pirates' hitters, Duncan's influenceaided a dramatic improvement of the Seton Hall offense in 2013. As a team, SHU registered a .301 batting average for the season, second-highest in the BIG EAST Conference and the highest for a Seton Hall team since 2000. Duncan worked closely with senior Giuseppe Papaccio, who finished third in the BIG EAST with a .365 batting average and was named the only unanimous First Team All-BIG EAST selection. He also mentored Zack Granite, who ranked second in the conference in runs scored and stolen bases and was also named to the All-BIG EAST First Team. Both standouts were selected in the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Duncan attented Seton Hall Prep from 2000-03 where he was a four-year letterman on the baseball team. He was a part of two state championship teams, in 2001 and 2003, also winning a pair of county titles (2001, 2003) and three conference championships (2000, 2001, 2003).

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