Alabama State Chris Biocic Ready For Second NCAA Tournament Experience

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during baseball action against Northern Kentucky University, Saturday, March 12, 2016.Photo by David Campbell/Alabama State University

Photo by David Campbell/Alabama State University

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ASU Sports Information

 

MONTGOMERY – The Alabama State University baseball team will be making its first-ever trip to the NCAA Regionals in Tallahassee, Fla., but it won’t be the first trip for catcher/first baseman Chris Biocic.

In 2011, when coach Mervyl Melendez took his Bethune-Cookman team to the NCAA Tallahassee Regional, Chris was a high school senior at Merritt Island High who ventured to Dick Howser Stadium to watch his brother Paul play in the tournament.

Florida State, the number five national seed, pulled out an opening-round win over Bethune-Cookman 6-5 with an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth, surviving a barrage of Wildcat home runs to advance.

ASU Chris BiocicBiocic and the handful of Bethune-Cookman fans who had made the trip were stunned by the late-inning rally.“

I thought they were going to win because I thought they outplayed Florida State,” Biocic said. “They lost on five or six flair hits and Bethune-Cookman had hit a bunch of home runs. Our starting pitching  now  is almost the same they had that year. We have three guys that can go out there and compete with anybody. And one through nine (batting order) is pretty solid all the way around and we play good defense. It was heartbreaking. At the end of the game, the whole team was crying because they were like a family. It’s kind of like we have here. The feeling would probably be the same.”

Bethune-Cookman never recovered. They were locked in a tight battle with Central Florida the next day when a long rain delay sent both teams to the dugout. When play resumed, Central Florida pulled away and eliminated B-CU.

“You’ve got to prepare yourself for anything because weather can strike at any moment,” Biocic said. “I think at that stage, it’s hard to stay mentally focused, especially after losing a tough game the night before. Then you have that three-hour rain delay and doubt starts to creep in.”

Melendez came to Alabama State one month later as the Hornets’ new baseball coach. Biocic signed with Bethune-Cookman but kept tabs on the coaching staff that had recruited him.

“They recruited me out of high school,” he said. “When they came to Alabama State, I thought I would stay close to home and go to Bethune-Cookman. I stayed there for a year but I really didn’t like it much.”

A year later, Biocic and his brother P.J. were reunited with Melendez at Alabama State, where the younger brother went on to earn all-Southwestern Athletic Conference honors as a catcher in 2015 after leading the team in triples (4) and stolen bases (12) while ranking second in batting average (.356) and RBIs (44).

“After a season there, he wasn’t comfortable because he wanted to play for us,” Melendez recalled. “We’re excited that he’s here. He’s been one of our best players for the two years that he has played. His brother was an excellent player for us, too.”

During the offseason, Melendez approached Biocic about moving to first base in 2016.“

Hunter Allen has been a great player for us, this year and last year,” Biocic said. “He’s made a ton of improvement offensively and defensively. When you have a player like that, you’ve got to get him in the lineup. They said, ‘Would you be OK with moving to first base?’ I said whatever it takes for the team I’ll do. That’s what it’s about.

“It was a tough adjustment, but I guess the coaches worked really hard with me to get me as prepared as best I can to play first base. They made me take about 100-200 ground balls a day. Other than that, they let me catch whenever my body feels good.”

Biocic remains the catcher whenever ace Joseph Camacho is pitching, which he is scheduled to do on Friday when the Hornets play Florida State in an opening-round game of the NCAA Talahassee Regional at 5 p.m. CT (radio – bamastatesports.com/showcase; video – ESPN3.com). When you’ve got a good thing going, as three-time SWAC Pitcher of the Year Camacho does, you don’t want to mess it up.

“We just have that connection, since my ball moves a lot and I throw a lot of breaking balls,” Camacho said. “He’s a great catcher. I give all the credit to him for making me look good.”

Biocic stays in touch with his brother Paul and said the two have talked about the experience of playing in an NCAA regional at Dick Howser Stadium.

Biocic stays in touch with his brother Paul and said the two have talked about the experience of playing in an NCAA regional at Dick Howser Stadium.

“He just tells me to get as much sleep as possible because you never how the (weather) delays can happen. Just stay loose and relaxed because the more uptight you get, the worse you’re going to play, so just go out there and have fun.”

If Biocic and his Hornet teammates follow Paul’s advice, they could become the first team in SWAC history to win at least two games in an NCAA regional. Ironically, it would come in the same arena where Melendez’s last team entered the NCAA regionals with high hopes before suffering a devastating first-round loss.

“He just tells me to get as much sleep as possible because you never how the (weather) delays can happen. Just stay loose and relaxed because the more uptight you get, the worse you’re going to play, so just go out there and have fun.”

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