The St. John’s men’s baseball team has amassed an overall record of 25-12 (11-4 Big East), and much of the team’s success can be attributed to the strong efforts of Gil Zayas. Zayas uses his brawny athletic build to his advantage in throwing from third base and powerful performances from the plate. Zayas has been racking the nerves of competitorswith his consistent overall play, leading the Red Storm in batting (.379), ranking second in RBI (36), and tying third in homeruns (4). The fierce competitor has upgraded his game on the field in his three years at St. John’s, as he continues to improve in his junior season.
“He’s well-improved since he arrived on the St. John’s campus. He has great athletic ability,” said head coach Ed Blankmeyer. “His game is getting better [and] he will continue to play at the next level.”
Zayas has exhibited a superior style of play and has had some really big highlights this season. For example, he hit two homeruns in the final game of a doubleheader sweep against Pittsburgh, a feat he had never accomplished before in his collegiate career.
“It felt amazing: one because we won the game, two because it was a great experience,[and, three] it was in a Big East conference series,” said Zayas.
He also earned his first Big East Conference Player-of-the-Week Honors in three years with the Red Storm. Zayas caught the eye of the Big East after hitting .500 with two doubles, two homers, and 10 RBI in six games during the week of April 8.
“I always wanted to be named,” he said. “I was lucky to perform well that week.”
Last week, Zayas was one of 24 players honored by the College Baseball Foundation as national players of the week. This accolade also came off his impressive week of April 8. Zayas, a native of Cuba, has been playing the sport that he loves since he was a child. His father and uncles played in his home country, so it was in his blood for him to be a ball player.
“I love [baseball] because I was born within the game,” he says. “Ever since I was born, I had a bat and ball by me.. I was with it my whole life.”
Raised in a family of baseball players, Zayas has been playing hardball incessantly, but officially stepped into the league scene at the age of ten, when he first arrived to the United Sates from his native country.
But Zayas has found a sense of home with the Red Storm, enjoying his times with the team both on and off the field.
“The best thing about playing for St. John’s is the friendships and the guys you play with,” he said. “All the experiences, excitements, and wins. It’s amazing.”
Like any other college baseball player at this point of the year, Zayas is thinking about the postseason. He went on to explain that the baseball team has not won a conference title since 1997, when Coach Blankmeyer led the program to its fifth Big East Tournament Championship title.
He wants that to change.
“Our major goal is to finish first in the Big East regular season and win the Big East tournament” he commented. “This year we want to win the tournament and the NCAA regionals.”
In Big East baseball, only the top eight of 12 teams make it to conference play. St. John’s is currently tied with Louisville at the number two spot, with Rutgers holding down number one. Zayas is very proud of his team’s accomplishments so far. He is also extremely hopeful for the rest of the season and the approaching postseason.
“We have come a long way,” he said. “We have a lot more to accomplish and there is a lot more to come out of us.”