WASHINGTON, Pa. - Eddie Nogay made a decision, like all high school seniors do, that changed his life.
After visiting many colleges and talking to many coaches, the 2010 Weirton Madonna graduate chose to start his collegiate baseball career at Washington and Jefferson.
"It was a great decision to stay close to home and play baseball for a great program," Nogay said Saturday after pitching the Presidents to an opening day, 4-2, victory over Bethany College at Ross Memorial Park.
"I think we do the right things here at W&J. Coach (Jeff) Mountain really knows how to coach baseball. More than anything, the recruiting class that came in with me, the class of 2014, is a close-knit family. There's a bunch of us who have grown and matured together and we all love the game of baseball.
"We're students of the game. This class is the key to our success."
The Presidents, coming off a 33-win season, have been picked to win the Presidents' Athletic Conference.
Nogay, along with teammate Josh Staniscia, were selected to the 2014 D3baseball.com preseason All-American first team. Both players were also featured by Collegiate Baseball newspaper in its 2014 NCAA Division III preview on the Players to Watch list.
The pair helped W&J achieve back-to-back, 30-plus win seasons and an 88-44 overall record (.667) and 54-15 PAC mark (.783) since their arrival on campus.
"People have really dedicated themselves to become better baseball players," Nogay said of the team's success. "A lot of guys came in here as multi-sport athletes and they came here to focus on baseball. They really have improved and honed their skills.
"The offseason work is the key. A lot of guys play in great summer leagues and have worked really hard in the weight room. Coach Mountain does a great job of making this a year-round sport.
"Our focus is on school and baseball and that's what we're here for."
Nogay was selected to the D3baseball.com and American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Rawlings All-America teams, respectively, in 2013 after earning D3baseball.com Mideast, Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) South and PAC Pitcher of the Year awards.
He finished the year with a 12-1 record and a 3.01 earned-run average in 15 appearances. Nogay fired four complete games and three shutouts, while limiting opposing hitters to a .238 batting average against. He owns a 22-1 career record with a 2.61 ERA.
Nogay was a three-sport athlete for the Blue Dons, winning state championships in football and baseball and making the state tournament in wrestling.
"I miss those other sports, but they made me the mentally tough athlete that I try to be," he said. "I feel like I am ready for any situation after having wrestled in the OVAC tournament and playing for and winning state championships in baseball and football.
"Coming here, and not just playing baseball, but focusing specifically on pitching, has helped me tremendously. I feel like I have made a lot of great strides as a pitcher."
The national pitcher of the year candidate has taken the mound 43 times in his career and logged 205 innings (132 strikeouts). Only left-handed hurler Justin D'Amato of St. John Fisher owns more career victories (27) among active NCAA Division III pitchers.
"The support from my teammates, the way our team produces runs, the way the defense plays behind me and the pitching coach, which is coach Mountain, who was a great pitcher at Allegheny, the people I am surrounded by and the support of my family are the reasons I've had any success at all," Nogay said between games of the doubleheader (Bethany won Game 2).
"I just thank God for the success I've had. You don't look too far into the future and you take it day-by-day, but hard work pays off."
Nogay, an English major who will enter law school next year, struck out three, allowed five hits and two earned runs in six innings Saturday. Kyle McLain came in to pitch the seventh and earn the save.
Through three seasons, Nogay has made 42 appearances (27 starts) and batters have hit .246 against him.
"I am confident out there because I know I've put in the work and I know results will come," he said. "You just have to go out there and play the game.
"I know how much I've prepared and how much hard work I've put in and God takes it from there.
"My four years at Madonna were incredible, but these four years here have just flown by. They've been just as good and I couldn't be happier with my athletic career from high school to college.
"I am just truly blessed."