On the mound, Tony Romanelli is unflappable.
“He doesn’t get nervous; he doesn’t get angry with umpires,” said Patrick Schetter, who plays shortstop behind Romanelli on Beacon High School’s baseball team. “You can’t even tell if he’s tired or excited. He’s really emotionless, but you can tell he really wants to win.”
Off the mound, the ace admits, he has his share of trepidation, just like any senior on the precipice of leaving home. On Friday, 17 months after verbally committing to the school, Romanelli officially signed his National Letter of Intent to play baseball for Wake Forest.
“Yeah, I’m definitely nervous. I’m definitely nervous,” Romanelli said. “I (decided) the summer of my sophomore year, and now that it’s finally here, it feels good. … Nothing’s changed. My opinion’s only gotten stronger.
“Through college, I just want to go out and do the best as I can. As a junior, my goal is to get drafted.”
Romanelli has been working toward that goal throughout his time at Beacon.
After a standout freshman season in which he won the first of his three consecutive Dutchess County Large Schools Pitcher of the Year awards, going 6-2 with a 2.59 ERA in 46 innings, he improved on those numbers as a sophomore, recording a 0.41 ERA, 75 strikeouts and 18 walks in 51 innings pitched. Last season, he had a 6-0 record, an ERA of 1.46, and 73 strikeouts in 522⁄3 innings. He’s also hit at least .329 and scored at least 16 runs in each of those three seasons, playing first base when not on the mound.
“He does what he’s supposed to do, which is get the big out, win the big game, get the big hit — all that while maintaining a relatively cool demeanor,” Beacon coach Bob Atwell said.
The success has not come cheaply. A standout football player as well, Romanelli quit the sport early in the preseason of 2012.
“It’s been a lot of time and dedication,” Romanelli said. “When everyone’s going out, I’m playing ball, working out all the time, getting in the best shape.
“I was set on what I needed to do. I knew that football wasn’t a good choice to keep playing because I didn’t want to risk injury.”
Of course, Beacon is not without its share of baseball stars from the past. Sean Lucas, a 2007 Beacon graduate, went on to pitch at Virginia and Albany before he was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 2012.
“Tony reminds us significantly of Sean Lucas,” Atwell said.
For Romanelli, the first step toward his goal of reaching the majors begins at Wake Forest. His teammates have expectations for his success.
“(Going to Wake Forrest) won’t even just be great for Tony, it’ll be great for all of us who know him, and the city of Beacon,” Schetter said. “I think Tony has the ability to blow everyone away.”