WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Joey Serfass was a quiet competitor who let the numbers speak for themselves. The numbers, as it turned out, were deafening, easily loud enough to reserve him a spot in the pantheon of the greatest pitchers in the 69-year history of the Eastern Connecticut State University baseball program.
A 6-foot-3 inch, 205-pound right-hander who submitted a pair of complete-game post-season ‘must’ wins as a sophomore in 2002 – including a five-hitter to win the national championship – Serfass has been selected for induction into the E-Club Hall of Fame in 2017, it has been announced by committee chair Scott Smith.
Serfass is the third-announced inductee into this year’s hall of fame, joining all-time men’s lacrosse goal leader Eddie Sheehan’02, who paced the Warriors to four regular-season and three Pilgrim League playoff titles and their first two post-season tournament appearances between 1997 and 2000; and women’s basketball All-America center Ashley (McFetridge) Snedeker’09, a 6-foot-2 inch shot-blocker and two-time Little East Conference Player-of-the-Year who played between 2005 and 2009.
The 24th E-Club Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Reception is scheduled for Saturday, October 21 at the Betty R. Tipton Room in the Student Center. A 4 p.m. reception will precede the 5 p.m. ceremony. A buffet meal will be available following the ceremony. Tickets are priced at $50 and must be reserved in advance by contacting Scott Smith at 860-465-4326 or at firstname.lastname@example.org visit the Hall of Fame website at https://easternct.prestosports.com/Hall_of_Fame/index
In 53 career pitching appearances between 2001 and 2004, the two-time ABCA All-America won 34 games in 38 decisions (23-1 in the regular season) with a 1.64 ERA and seven saves, 219 strikeouts and only 34 walks (1.01 per game) in 302 2/3 innings. A Newington native, Serfass completed nearly 40 percent (14) of his 37 career starts and allowed an average of only 8.09 hits and walks per nine innings.
Serfass was a member of very deep and very talented pitching staffs for teams which compiled a gaudy overall record of 163-44-1 (78.7 percent), 26-8 in NCAA post-season play. But with the season on the line, he most always drew the starting assignment. And for good reason. “When Joe Serfass’ name was on the lineup card in the pitching slot, we knew we had a great chance of winning,” noted Scott Smith, one of his assistant coaches. “He was always in command and in control on the mound. And if things happened negatively behind him, he would always pick his teammates up.”
In Little East Conference and NCAA tournament competition, Serfass was at his finest as he led the Warriors to three LEC tournament championships, an unprecedented three straight NCAA Division III New England titles, and in 2002, the program’s fourth national title. In 15 LEC and NCAA post-season pitching appearances, Serfass was 11-3 with a 1.20 ERA, 61 strikeouts and ten walks in 90 1/3 innings. He completed seven of his 11 starts.
After losing the first two post-season decisions of his career, Serfass won 11 of his final 12. As a redshirt freshman in 2001, he was driven from the mound after only one inning in his first NCAA appearance in the championship round of the New England Regional. He returned the next year with a vengeance, completing three of his four post-season starts. He opened the double-elimination regional in 2002 with a complete-game five-hitter over Suffolk University. Four days later, he spring-boarded the once-beaten Warriors into the regional title game (and the eventual championship) with a legendary complete-game, seven-hit 3-2, ten-inning victory over previously unbeaten Wheaton College.
The lights-out pitching of Joey Serfass ignited many post-season celebrations, including the one below in the 2004 New England Regional Tournament at the Eastern Baseball Stadium. Serfass shut out Babson College, 8-0, on four hits in the second round of the tournament for his ninth win of the season without a loss.
Serfass opened the 2002 national tournament four days later by pitching into the seventh inning without a decision in a ten-inning win over Concordia U.- Austin. In the national title game four days later, he was magnificent once again, twirling a masterful complete-game five-hit (four singles) shutout of Marietta College that culminated in a leap into the arms of his catcher, Jeff Funaro. “Winning the national championship, being on the mound and watching my teammates and catcher celebrating was a moment I will never forget,” remembers Serfass, 15 years later.
As the Little East Pitcher-of-the-Year as a junior in 2003, Serfass completed a perfect 9-0 season with three wins in three decisions in post-season play. He did not allow an earned run in 25 post-season innings that spring, completing two of his three starts with 25 strikeouts and one walk.
In addition to All-America recognition twice, Serfass was named All-New England Region and All-LEC three times, first-team All-ECAC twice and the recipient of the team’s Best Pitcher Award twice.
Among the 12 Eastern pitchers who have won at least 20 games in a career, Serfass’ winning percentage of 89.5 is the second-best. Thirteen seasons after throwing his final pitch, Serfass still ranks third all-time in pitching victories (he is one of three pitchers with at least 30 career wins), first in least walks per nine innings, second in least hits and walks per nine innings, third in innings (302.6), fourth in ERA (1.64), tied for fourth in shutouts (five) and complete games (14), fifth in starts (36), and seventh in winning percentage (minimum ten decisions) and strikeouts (219).
Serfass’ streak of 47 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings pitched during his junior season still ranks as an NCAA Division III record and his string of 52 2/3 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run which spanned his junior and senior seasons remains a program record (the NCAA does not keep that as an official record).
In addition to pitching, Serfass saw time at third base during his career, where he fashioned a .311 career batting average in 148 at-bats with 12 extra-base hits and 25 RBI. In his first two seasons, he combined to bat .336 with 24 RBI in 110 official at-bats, with 67 fielding assists.
Upon graduation, Serfass pitched four professional seasons with the New York Mets, eventually reaching the Double A level in 2007 as an undrafted free agent. In 55 relief appearances over his first two full seasons, Serfass was 3-3 with eight saves and a 1.80 ERA in 120 innings, fanning 95 and walking only 22 and surrendering 88 hits.
Serfass holds a B.S. Degree in Physical Education from Eastern and an M.S. Degree in Coaching and Athletic Administration from Concordia University and teaches physical education and serves as head baseball coach at Windsor High School. Joey and Tara Serfass reside in Wethersfield with young daughters Ava and Clara.