Written by Vinny Messana Thursday, 03 April 2014 00:00
Dolce's rise to the top of Rams rotation
He may be soft-spoken and humble, but Farmingdale State’s ace pitcher Mike Dolce makes it difficult to ignore his statistics. The 6’4” Smithtown native has emerged from relative obscurity to become one of the most effective Division III pitchers in the nation.
“I actually was not being recruited by any schools coming out of high school,” said the pitcher, who currently carries a 1.00 ERA. “Farmingdale was the only Division III school I applied to and I knew the assistant coach at the time. I figured my best bet to play college baseball was at Farmingdale and I could not be luckier that I made that decision.” Dolce attended St. Anthony’s High School where he played primarily first base and occasionally pitched. He had a tough decision to make when he came to Farmingdale.
“I loved both,” he said in regards to hitting and pitching. “When I was hot there was nothing better than hitting. I was a first basemen and when I came to Farmingdale there was a great senior first basemen (Kevin Curtis), so I made the decision to pitch full time and fortunately it worked out for me.”
Dolce entered into a Rams rotation that was very strong, but with little depth. He impressed the coaching staff enough to work his way into the rotation by the beginning of the season. The results fluctuated, but he proved he was not overwhelmed and made improvements with each start. By the end of his freshman season, Dolce was trusted enough to start a regional game over more experienced pitchers. He finished his freshman season with a 3.09 ERA and four victories.
Entering the 2012 season, Dolce was penciled into the rotation. Dolce did experience a bit of a “sophomore slump” for whatever reason and he admits he “struggled greatly” with his control. He did not allow it to affect his development, and he straightened out the issue by season’s end. In the final game of the regional, Dolce pitched six innings in relief against a 38-win Cortland team that ultimately went on to advance to the College World Series.
Still, he made it his point to improve for his junior season. “I made it a focus in the offseason to be able to hit my spots and my junior year showed a drastic improvement,” he said. “Now I am focused on maintaining my performance level while improving velocity, movement and command on all my pitches. To get the most out of my body I can possibly get,” he added.
Whatever he did in the offseason worked. Dolce set a program record with a 0.57 ERA over 59.2 innings. He compiled a record of 6-1 to bring his career record to 12-6. For his performance, he was named to the All-Farmingdale State team, first-team All-Conference, and second team All-Region by d3baseball.com. Dolce became the new ace of the Rams, a title that Chris Phelan had previously held for three seasons. He also pitched seven innings and recorded the win against Neumann in the first game of the regional tournament.
The 2014 season is already off to a terrific start for Dolce, as he has won his only decision and yielded only one run in nine innings. Having already broken individual records, he is intent on returning Farmingdale State to the Division-III World Series for the first time since 2009.
“My main goal for this season is to make it to the College World Series. Farmingdale has only been there once and I will do whatever it takes to get there. I don’t really set too many numerical goals for myself. I just go out there and do whatever it takes to give my team the best opportunity to win the game,” he concluded.