SHRUB OAK, N.Y. – Evan Berta’s high-school career may have ended prematurely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but he will continue playing next year at Fairfield University.
Berta, Lakeland’s co-ace with Joe Vetrano, chose Fairfield because it felt like a great fit both academically and athletically.
“I wanted a school that had an outstanding business program, but I also wanted a school that had top notch athletic facilities on campus, and Fairfield has both,” Berta said. “The coaches showed a ton of interest in me and were very proactive in communicating with me and that was important as well. They introduced me to many of the players and told me I would have a great opportunity to play early in my career. I know nothing will be handed to me. Division 1 baseball is some of the best competition, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to compete against some great players to earn a starting spot. I look forward to the challenge.”
Initially, Berta said that it was his pitching that caught the eye of the Fairfield coaches, but they learned he also was a solid centerfielder who could also swing the bat.
“The other reason I chose Fairfield is because they are going to give me an opportunity to be a two-way player,” Berta said. “Ultimately, I just want to help Fairfield win games any way that I can: with my arm, my glove, or my bat. Whatever they ask me to do, I’ll be ready.”
At Lakeland, Berta formed one of the best one-two punches in the state with Vetrano, who is going to Boston College.
“Joe and I started playing baseball together when we were 8 years old,” Berta said. “We pushed each other to be better. We played travel ball together, we both made the USA Northeast 14U team together, we started playing high-school baseball together in the seventh grade, we started doing college showcases together, and we worked out at Prosing and TP strength together in the off-seasons.”
The two played because of their love for the game, having fun playing with their friends and making new ones along the way.
“Winning was an added bonus for us,” Berta said. “But I do take a lot of pride in the success our teams had, because I know how hard we both worked to be good players and good teammates.”
The long-time friends just wanted to help the teams they played on win, no matter what position they were playing that day or whoever they were facing on the mound.
“We knew our teammates felt the same way and that’s why we were successful as a team,” Berta said. “On any given day, we believed anyone on the team could step up to win a game for us; it wasn’t always Joe or me.”
Berta cherished playing on Lakeland’s 2018 and 2019 sectional title squads.
“I know I want to accomplish a lot down the road, but it will be hard to do something I’m more proud of than being a part of back-to-back section titles with my teammates,” Berta said. “Section 1 Class A is some of the best [competition] in the state, and to win one is hard, but to win two in a row, against the teams we had to beat, I’m really proud of that.”
Berta said that not getting a chance to three-peat was disappointing, but it also makes him appreciate just how special and important those first two titles were to get.
“Had we not won any, it would have been far worse to lose this last chance,” Berta said. “Two things I do wish, are I wish I could play just one more game with my teammates in the Lakeland uniform and I would have liked another shot at a state title. We came close the last two years but couldn’t get over that hill. That’s baseball, I guess. You fail more than you succeed and that’s one of the things that I love about this game. There is always something to strive for tomorrow. For me, now that’s a MAAC championship with Fairfield.”
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