Head Coach Nick Puccio
Nick Puccio begins his fifth season at the helm of the Nichols College baseball program in 2018.
Puccio guided Nichols to its second-straight 20-win campaign in 2017. The Bison posted a 23-19 mark and advanced to the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Semifinals. The season was highlighted by wins over NCAA Participants Salve Regina and Worcester State, as well as College World Series participant Wheaton (MA). The Bison played one of the toughest schedules in the region, one which featured a total of 17 teams which were regionally ranked during the season. Six Bison received CCC All-Conference honors – including First Team picks Nick Roy and Com Cook, who was also named to the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA) and ABCA/Rawlings NCAA Division III All-Region Second Team.
The Bison won a program-record 24 games in 2016 and earned the No. 3 seed in the CCC Tournament, giving them the right to host a home playoff contest. Nichols later earned its first-ever berth into the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III New England Tournament. Puccio – who shared Worcester Area Coach of the Year accolades – saw seven student-athletes earn CCC All-Conference honors – including four (Ross Caswell, Cam Cook, Kevin Kirley, Nick Roy) selected to the CCC First Team. Cook was also named to the D3baseball.com All-New England Second Team as well as ECAC Division III Baseball All-Second Team.
In 2015 while coaching a squad whose roster was comprised primarily of freshmen (67 percent) and no seniors, Puccio guided the Bison to 11 wins – the program’s highest win total since 2011. Two student-athletes – Spencer Madden and Matt Hardy – earned CCC Second and Third Team honors, respectfully, while Ben Harrow joined them on the All-Worcester Area Baseball Team. Additionally, the Bison saw a 31-point increase in their team batting average in 2015, giving them their highest mark (.304) since 2005.
In their first season under Puccio in 2014, the Bison increased their batting average by 46 points from the previous campaign (.227 to .273) and won five conference games – four more than the previous campaign. He earned his first win as a collegiate head coach against Southern Vermont on March 20.
In four years in Dudley, Puccio has seen his student-athletes receive 16 all-conference honors, 10 all-academic awards, four All-Worcester Area honors, and two all-region accolades. His players have played in the NECBL, Futures Leagues, NYCBL, Hampton’s League, and the Perfect Game League.
Prior to his arrival at Nichols, Puccio spent three seasons at Wheaton (MA) College and was a key member of a coaching staff which guided the team to three NCAA Tournament appearances – including the College World Series National Championship game in 2012. During his time in Norton, Puccio coached 13 student-athletes who earned All-New England Honors, another 13 who garnered All-New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) honors, and one All-America selection.
Puccio - the lead hitting coach as well as the third base coach for longtime Wheaton head coach Eric Podbelski – saw the Lyons receive the NEWMAC Team Sportsmanship Award on two occasions. Responsible for recruiting the northeast region, Puccio also assisted Podbelski with all day-to-day operations of the program. Puccio spent the summer of 2013 as the hitting coach and camp director for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks of the Cape Cod Baseball League, where he coached a total of 14 Major League Baseball (MLB) Draft Picks – including a pair of first-rounders.
“Working for Eric Podbelski has been one of the greatest experiences in my coaching career,” explained Puccio. “He is one of the best, if not the best, baseball coach I have been around. I have learned so much from him as far as how to maintain a roster and how to go about your job every single day. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor.”
Puccio added, “It’s no secret that we won with pitching and defense at Wheaton, as well as a very systematic offense,” said Puccio. “I plan on bringing all three with me to Nichols. We will go after guys who can defend, guys that can throw strikes and be front line arms, and guys who will bring a team mentality. Everyone needs to be pulling the ship in the same direction, and we are going to recruit student-athletes that want to be part of a championship program.”
Puccio began his collegiate coaching career in 2008 at Dean College, where he was the top assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for two years. He helped the Bulldogs win a school-record 27 games in 2009 and saw four student-athletes selected to the all-region team. Puccio returned to his alma mater, Fitchburg State, in 2010 and spent one year as an assistant coach and camp coordinator with the Falcons before he moved on to work as an assistant coach at Southeastern Iowa Community College in 2011.
While in Iowa, Puccio helped the Blackhawks win a program-record 44 games and post the seventh-highest winning pct. in the country (44-16; 733). Puccio – who was also the recruiting coordinator and community advisor – saw nine student-athletes earn All-Iowa Community College Athletic Conference (ICCAC) honors, two student-athletes garner All-America accolades, and two selected in the Major League Baseball (MLB) Draft. The Blackhawks climbed as high as No. 14 in the national rankings during the season.
Puccio received his associate of arts in education from Dean College in 2007 and his bachelor of science in interdisciplinary studies from Fitchburg State in 2010.
Assistant Coach Benjamin Harrow
Benjamin Harrow begins his second season as member of head coach Nick Puccio’s baseball staff at Nichols College in 2017-18.
Harrow was a four-year member of the baseball program at NC and finished his career with a .372 career batting average – eighth-best in program history – and is also a member of the 100-hit club. He enjoyed his finest season as a senior, when he batted .368 and drove in 18 runs to earn Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Third Team honors.
Harrow was a CCC Honorable Mention as a sophomore in 2014, when he led the conference with a .431 average. The following year, he batted .328 and earned Worcester Area Second Team honors.
Assistant Coach Brian Mazella
Brian Mazella begins his first season as member of head coach Nick Puccio’s baseball staff at Nichols College in 2017-18.
Mazella is a 2015 graduate of Western New England University with a degree in Sport Management. Currently serving as the head coach of the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate League, Mazella spent last summer as the associate head baseball coach for the Tobacco Valley Renegades, a member of the Connecticut Collegiate Baseball League. He worked with the Renegades pitching staff and also served as the team’s first base coach.
Mazella cut his teeth as an intern with the University of Hartford baseball program in 2014 and has also spent time with the Dream Bat Bombers (2014-17) and Westfield State Owls (2015-17). He also worked for the Southern New England Baseball Academy.
A native of Windsor, Connecticut, Mazella was a four-year member of the Western New England baseball program. He appeared in 20 games on the bump (one start) and struck out 15 batters in 28 innings of work. He recorded his first career victory against Bowdoin as a junior in 2014, when he appeared in a career-high 10 games.
Assistant Coach David Real
Real spent two years at the University of Arizona, where appeared in 14 games for the Wildcats – including 10 starts behind the dish. He finished his collegiate playing career at Stony Brook, where he batted .246 with 19 doubles, three home runs, 36 RBI, and a .373 on-base pct. In 81 games.
“We are excited to round out our staff with David,” said Nichols head coach Nick Puccio. “He comes highly recommended from some of the best programs in the country. David is going to do a great job developing our catching core and will be an asset to many other elements of our program.
Real – who was a two-time all-state selection at Boulder Creek H.S. in 2011-12 – began his collegiate career at Southern Mountain Community College before graduating this past May from Stony Brook with a degree in sociology.