RALEIGH, NC — What a year it has been for former Newark Academy baseball standout and Livingston native Anthony Giachin. The 6-foot, 210-pound freshman third baseman is finishing up his first season at The United States Military Academy with an appearance in the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament Friday, when fourth-seeded Army (36-22) will face host and top-seeded North Carolina State (40-16) in the Raleigh Regional at Doak Field at Dail Park with first pitch set for 7 p.m. (ESPN3).

Second-seeded Auburn and third-seeded Northeastern are also in the bracket, where the overall winner of the Regional will advance to Super Regionals. All of the games in the Raleigh Regional will be streamed live on ESPN3.

The transition from high school senior to first-year cadet and baseball starter has been swift for Giachin, who has started all 58 games for the Black Knights this season.

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“My first summer at West Point was a little bit of a culture shock for me going through Cadet Basic Training," said Giachin, who also holds a 4.17 GPA (top on team). "I had never really been in that type of environment before and it was difficult for me to adjust at first. That part of West Point was definitely a test of my mental strength, but in the end, I think I came out stronger and better than before. After the summer, I was able to dive into the academics, which has been my strong suit in the past."

Giachin added that the academics were difficult, but that his experiences at Newark Academy prepared him for it. 

"I did not have too much trouble getting all my work done on time," he said. "However, having baseball made it more difficult to meet all my other requirements. It is an extremely large time commitment that takes away from the academic and military aspect of West Point. Time management became a necessary skill for me to have in my first year. I learned to use my time effectively and efficiently to get everything done when it needed to be.”

Giachin, who helped Newark Academy to state sectional titles in 2015 and 2017 along with Prep B titles in 2014 and 2017, has not missed a beat on the diamond.

The freshman ranks in the top five team-wise in almost all statistical categories, including a .293 batting average (tied for third), 32 runs scored, 60 hits with nine doubles and three triples, two home runs (tied for team lead), 32 RBI (third), .407 slugging percentage, six stolen bases, 111 assists and (wipe the brow) a .954 fielding percentage.

“We rolled into the Patriot League part of the schedule on a pretty bad 1-8 record in Florida during our spring break trip," said Giachin. "However, by playing top teams like Michigan, Maryland, Stetson, and USF early on in the year, it enabled us to be ready to compete in league play. Every single player in the program knew we could compete and even beat the top teams in the country, so we all believed we could make a serious run." 

After being picked fifth in the beginning of the year, Giachin said he thinks a lot of his teammates were playing with a chip on their shoulder "and an aim to prove people wrong."

"We got off to a hot start and ultimately finished strong, tying for first in the conference," he said. "After moving past Bucknell in the first round of the tournament, we had our eyes set on Navy again, who had our number during the year.”

Giachin responded when his team needed it the most and was named the Patriot League Tournament’s Most Valuable Player as well as to the All-Tournament Team, going 4-for-8 with five RBI and a run scored in two victories (8-5, 5-3) over rival Navy to advance to college baseball’s grand stage.

“It was only fitting for us to play our bitter rivals in a contest to go to the NCAA tournament," said Giachin. "We all played with that same confidence we had all year, as no one was going to give an inch. It was an incredible series and an unreal feeling to be able to hoist that trophy on Navy's field. It was enormous for our program to get back into the NCAA tournament as we have been in a little bit of a drought.

"It was especially big for our seniors, who have grinded for four years on losing teams with multiple coaching staffs. To be able to send them off with a trip to a regional was extremely gratifying for everyone after all they've given to the program.”

The next step

“They are a powerhouse team that believes that they are going to steamroll us,” said Giachin, whose squad enters the tournament winning eight of its last nine games and relishes the underdog role. "We know that we can play with and beat anyone so I think our best bet is to just stick to what has gotten us this far. Our pitching has carried us time and time again, as they have won us games all year."

With good pitching, Giachin said he thinks anything can happen.

“I think we just need to grind every at-bat like we know we can," he said. "We need to cut down our swings with two strikes and put the ball in play. We also need to hit well with runners in scoring position, as those opportunities are likely going to be hard to come by. We need to capitalize when we have the chance.”

As Giachin looks forward to his first post-season of what hopes to be many more, he knows the support system around him has helped him get to where he is today. He said his friends and family have been "everything for [him]" throughout his life, and that it was no different during his transition from Newark Academy to West Point.

"They have supported me through every step and allowed me to have the opportunity to succeed each step of the way," he said. "They are truly a special group of people and I am beyond blessed to have them in my life."

During his basic training, Giachin said he received countless letters from many different people in his life, and that it was reassuring to see how many people support him.

"Having that strong of a support system enabled me to persevere through the tough times and that support has continued throughout the school year and the baseball season," he said. "My dad, Dan, has traveled across the country to watch nearly every single game I've played in this season. He is truly an incredible man and it is comforting to see him in the stands every day cheering me on. I could not be more thankful for him as well as my mom, Danielle." 

Giachin was also named Patriot League Rookie of the Year and to the regular season All-Conference Team.

"I love baseball more than anything in the world and to be able to compete at a high level while also receiving a top tier education makes everything worth it,” he said. 

Tune in Friday night and this weekend to see something special with Giachin in the starting lineup. 

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