Published Friday, June 10, 2011
The Newnan Times-Herald
The last two weeks in the baseball life of former Newnan Cougar and current North Carolina Tar Heel Jesse Wierzbicki have been upbeat beginning with the third-place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
After the ACC tournament where he was named all-tournament, Wierzbicki and his Tarheel teammates won their regional over the weekend and qualified to play in an NCAA Super Regional beginning this afternoon at home against the Stanford Cardinal.
Game one of the best-of-three series is at 3 p.m., and will be televised on ESPN2.
So far, this week's biggest moment came Tuesday evening when he was selected in the 32nd round by the Houston Astros, while becoming the fifth Tar Heel to hear his name called in the draft.
The selection marked the second time he was drafted as he was picked by the Atlanta Braves in the 40th round of the 2008 draft while playing at Walters State Community College.
The second wait wasn't any easier.
"It was long and very nerve-racking day especially when my teammates were getting called," he said. "I prayed a lot and stayed positive. All I could do was sit back and be patient."
Finally, word came from coaches as opposed to the Internet that he was a selection of the Astros which ended a long day for Wierzbicki.
"I was in the middle of practice taking ground balls at first when I found out," he said. "It was great to be there doing what I love when I got the call."
Primarily a catcher during his days at Newnan as well as UNC, Wierzbicki has played other positions such as first this year and shortstop in his junior year with the Cougars.
"The Astros are going to have me play some first, designated hitter and try to get me some work in left field," he said of the Astros' plan which also includes reporting to the Tri-City Valleycats in Troy, N.Y. which is the Astros' affiliate in the Class A New York-Penn League.
For now Wierzbicki will remain in a Carolina Blue uniform. The Astros will talk about a contract after the Tar Heels' season ends which Wierzbicki and his teammates hope is in a couple of weeks at the College World Series.
Wierzbicki and his teammates, however, will be concentrating on today's series against a pretty good Cardinal team.
"It should be a great series. They have solid starting pitchers and their closer was drafted in the first round," he said. "If we get the pitching and defense that has been a mark of our team all season then I like our chances."
Going into this afternoon's series, Wierzbicki is hitting .307 with eight home runs and 52 RBIs to go along with 12 doubles, two triples and six stolen bases in 59 games for the Tarheels who are 48-14 this season.