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Pinellas County has deep College World Series connections

Mark Parker

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Pitching phenom Cooper Consiglio, an East Lake High School alum, made the College World Series a year after graduation. Photos provided.

The pinnacle of college baseball kicked off Friday in Omaha, Nebraska, and an unlikely team is representing Pinellas County.

Cooper Consiglio was celebrating his graduation from East Lake High School at this time last year. The true freshman pitching phenom will soon take the mound on amateur baseball’s biggest stage with the N.C. State Wolfpack – the College World Series.

Pitching coach Clint Chrysler has fostered Consiglio’s immediate success. Chrysler starred at Boca Ciega High School before a nine-year Major League Baseball (MLB) career.

“I think it’s just a really competitive area with a bunch of guys who want to win,” Consiglio said of Pinellas. “And when you’re all competing at a high level, it just makes everyone that much better.”

The left-handed Palm Harbor native struck out 184 batters in 124 innings at East Lake. A high school teammate, Jake Bechtel, joined Consiglio at N.C. State and should make his debut in 2025.

Consiglio has wasted no time establishing his presence in Raleigh, North Carolina. The 18-year-old fanned 38 hitters in 41 innings for the 10th-ranked Wolfpack.

“A lot of people would kill to be in this position, and I’m just so grateful that we were able to get the job done,” Consiglio said. “There’s really no feeling like dog piling on the field knowing you’re going to Omaha.”

Pinellas County’s baseball roots are what attracted Consiglio to N.C. State. Chrysler and associate head coach Chris Hart recruited the local amateur in 2021, during the university’s last World Series run.

Hart starred at Clearwater Central Catholic High School. St. Petersburg College provided his first head coaching gig.

“They both know the type of baseball that goes on in Pinellas County,” Consiglio said. “The fact that they’re from the same area I’m from helped me realize they know what I’ve been doing. They know the level of baseball that goes on there.”

Consiglio is in good hands with his position coach. Chrysler has sent 11 Wolfpack pitchers to the majors in the past six years.

He called Tampa Bay “talent-rich,” and noted the weather allows preps to play and practice year-round. Chrysler said N.C. State’s local connections have propelled recruiting success.

He said the University of Florida, Florida State University and the University of Miami have “wonderful programs” that typically attract local amateur stars. However, many are also keenly interested in “doing something different.”

“Just see something different for a short part of their life,” Chrysler added. “We’ve been very fortunate to get some very good players from Pinellas County – and also have some more Florida guys in our recruiting pipeline …”

Pitching coach Clint Chrysler shared fond memories of his time at Boca Ciega High School and playing for a St. Petersburg VFW team.

Chrysler was not afraid to throw his true freshman pitcher into the fire. He joked that “Coop” (Consiglio) is still a “baby” who turned 18 around Thanksgiving.

Chrysler felt Consiglio’s prep career and mental fortitude prepared him for the bright lights of Division 1 baseball. He said Consiglio’s ability to rebound from a rough early outing against the University of Hawaii – the school he initially committed to – in Honolulu validated that hypothesis.

“He was on campus as a 17-year-old playing against 23-year-olds,” Chrysler said of Coop. “You have to pick and choose your spots as a coach … to put them in positions to be successful.”

While North Carolina is now home, Chrysler said his family still lives in Pinellas, and he frequently visits the area. A high school friend and his wife made a surprise trip to Raleigh for the Wolfpack’s Super Regional matchup against the University of Georgia.

Chrysler called his little league coach at St. Petersburg’s American Legion Post 125 a “great baseball man” who still texts after big wins. “I loved my time at Boca Ciega,” he said.

“Every time we come to town, I drive by it,” Chrysler added. “I’ll put it that way. I was down there recruiting … and my nephew, Nolan, was playing ball at St. Pete Catholic (High School). I got to enjoy watching my nephew play baseball at the same place I used to play baseball.

“Those are always really, really good memories for all of us as a family.”

Consiglio, Chrysler and the Wolfpack face the 2nd-ranked University of Kentucky in their opening game at 1 p.m. today. ESPN will broadcast the matchup live.

The College World Series is an eight-team, double-elimination tournament. Additional Pinellas County Schools alums include UF’s Sammy Mummau (Dunedin), Liam Peterson (Cavalry Christian) and Ryan Slater (East Lake). Florida State features Dunedin’s Andrew Duncan, who attended the A3 Academy in Tampa.

 

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