Thursday’s roundup: Gastonia’s professional baseball team has a new manager, college basketball and college football news

New Gastonia Honey Hunters manager Mauro Gozzo previously coached in the ALPB in New Britain, Conn., in 2019.

By Richard Walker
A former major leaguer and a longtime baseball coach has been selected as the first manager of the Gastonia Honey Hunter in their inaugural season the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.

The team announced Thursday that Mauro “Goose” Gozzo will be the team’s 2021 manager and oversee all baseball operations, including player signings, and analyzing team performance and data.

“Mauro Gozzo brings decades of experience, commitment to excellence, and dedication to team and player development to the Honey Hunters organization,” Honey Hunters CEO David Martin said in a team news release. “As team manager, Gozzo will be the cornerstone to building a world-class team. We are thrilled to have him join our organization.”

Gozzo, 54, is a native of New Britain, Conn., who began his professional baseball career shortly after being selected as a pitcher in the 13th round of the 1984 major league draft by the New York Mets.

“I am excited and honored to bring my love of baseball, my passion for motivating coaches and players to compete at their highest levels, and my years of experience as a player, coach, and manager to the Gastonia Honey Hunters,” Gozzo said in a team news release. “Fearless. Determined. Resilient. These are the words that we will live and play by on and off the field. I want to thank Brandon Bellamy, Honey Hunters team owner, and David Martin for the opportunity, and I look forward to a monumental inaugural season.”

Involved in the Mets’ 1987 trade with the Kansas City Royals that brought pitcher David Cone to New York, Gozzo broke into the major leagues two years later – and after the Toronto Blue Jays selected him in the minor league draft. Gozzo would spend all or parts of the next six seasons in the majors with the Blue Jays (1989), Cleveland Indians (1990-91), Minnesota Twins (1992) and the Mets (1993-94). Gozzo made 48 appearances with a 7-7 record and 124 innings pitched.

In his 13-year pro career, Gozzo also made 349 career minor league appearances and had 79 wins, a 3.83 ERA and 692 strikeouts in 1,134 2-3 innings.

Prior to coming to Gastonia, Gozzo was field manager and pitching coach for former ALPB team the New Britain Bees and has been a private instructor and coached a nationally-ranked travel team in the Connecticut area for nine years.

Now in Gastonia, Gozzo will soon hire pitching and batting coaches as well as sign players for the Honey Hunters’ inaugural season that is set to begin on May 28.


College men’s basketball
Gardner-Webb 77, Radford 49: Jaheam Cornwall scored a game-high 22 points and freshmen Jordan Sears and Anthony Selden combined for 30 points off the bench as the visiting Runnin’ Bulldogs (10-14, 9-10) completed a two-game series sweep of the second-place Highlanders (13-11, 12-6). Gardner-Webb plays again next Wednesday at USC Upstate to close out its regular season.

Belmont Abbey 85, Erskine 80: L.J. McCoy scored 19 points, Charles Solomon 15 and Sean Halloran and Chandler Baker 10 apiece as the Crusaders improved to 13-4 overall and 11-3 in Conference Carolinas. The Abbey next plays Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at home against Lees-McRae.

College basketball
The Charlotte 49ers-UTSA men’s and women’s basketball series scheduled for this weekend – in Charlotte (men’s) and San Antonio (women’s) – have been canceled due to weather-related challenges associated with the severe winter storms in the San Antonio area.

College football
Charlotte 49ers: Head football coach Will Healy has named former Columbia, S.C., Ridge View High School head coach Perry Parks as his team’s new wide receivers coach. The hiring of Parks completes Healy’s full-time staff for the 2021 season.
“Perry is such an impressive guy and coach,” Healy said in a school news release. “His success as a high school coach in South Carolina for the past decade, building programs with positivity and enthusiasm, showed us that he would be an invaluable piece of what we are doing in Charlotte. He’s going to get the best out of that receiver room.”
Parks, who played at Sumter, S.C., High School and at Coastal Carolina, led Ridge View to a 44-24 record in six seasons, including a trip to the 2019 Class 4A Upper State championship game. Ridge View advanced to the third round of the playoffs three times in his six years.