NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Rockland County college baseball team is headed to the College World Series, but they will have to compete without one of their key players.

As 1010 WINS’ Derricke Dennis reported, he’s 22 years old and already sacrificing for his country. St. Thomas Aquinas College senior and baseball player Joe Grimaldi is leaving his team just before the series playoffs to report for military duty after joining the U.S. Marine Corps.

“Being at the College World Series is the thing that I want to do the second most in the world. And the thing I want to do the first most is be a Marine, so it’s — I’m OK with it,” Grimaldi said.

St. Thomas Aquinas baseball coach Scott Muscat said Grimaldi has had an immeasurable impact on his team and will be missed, “but he’s leaving the Spartans and joining the real warriors — the U.S. Marines.”

Grimaldi said he tried to delay reporting to basic training but that it ultimately was not an option.

“I went to my recruiter on Monday and I said ‘is there anyway I could maybe travel with my team?’ And he basically told me they have my bed ready for me already,” Grimaldi said.

And so he’s off to serve his country while his team tries to serve up a world series win.

St. Thomas Aquinas College President Dr. Margaret Mary Fitzpatrick presented Grimaldi with a medal Wednesday.

“He epitomizes the values of our college: respect and social responsibility,” she said.

Grimaldi’s teammates told Dennis they understand and that they’ll play their hearts out in his absences.

“It’s sad cause he’s one of those kids that really loved the game, loved our team, but I think it’s awesome what he’s doing. It’s inspiring,” said freshman player Greg Dawber.

Check Out These Other Stories From

More From CBS New York

Download Weather App

Watch & Listen LIVE