Militello Twins Staying Together In College

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR Michigan Senior Writer

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Militello Twins Staying Together In College

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HOWELL - The battery of Jackson and Justin Militello will live on at Eastern Michigan.

The twins from Howell committed to the Mid-American Conference school on the same day and with it comes the reality of knowing the ties of family will remain on the ball field together for the next four years after high school.

“In the back of my head I knew it would be cool to go where my brother went but we agreed the only way we would go to the same school is if it was good for both of us,” related Justin.

After all, it was about what was best for the future of both 17-year-olds.

“What I said was I was going to make a decision based on what I want to do and if he goes there … great,” Jackson said. “He decided it was best for him.”

The fifth-rated 2022 catcher in Michigan, Jackson had his first communication with EMU while playing for the Indiana Prospects.

“It was nothing serious until I went to a camp,” Jackson reflected. “I talked to their head coach when I was there and, being a catcher, I felt Eastern was one of the better catching programs around with the Roofs (head coach Eric and assistant Jonathan). Eric Roof was a pro catcher with the Tigers and I liked how he taught it. I enjoyed hearing his wealth of knowledge about catching and how it’s an art.”

Eastern was the first school to show an interest in Justin, the 15th-ranked 2022 right-handed pitcher in the state.

“They reached out as soon as Sept. 1 hit and I built a relationship with AJ and coach Eric Roof,” Justin said in reference to AJ Achter, the former pitching coach at EMU, and Eric Roof, the head coach since 2018. “They came to see me and my brother play. I went on a visit there and they offered on the visit.”

The velocity and pitchability stood out to EMU, according to Justin.

“They like my ability to throw two or three pitches for strikes,” pointed out Justin, who also had interest from a couple Power Five schools as well as other MAC programs.

Jackson also brought promise to the Eastern staff.

“They like my athleticism behind the plate,” noted Jackson, the 37th-rated senior in Michigan. “I have a lot of flexibility and also an understanding of how to catch as far as the receiving and blocking aspects. They like my projectability being 6-1 and athletic, and they also like the pop in my bat.”

A 6-2 195-pounder, Justin had an impression made on him by Eastern Michigan, which is located 40 minutes from Howell.

“I like the coaching staff,” pointed out Justin, the 36th-ranked 2022 in the state. “They’re building a good culture there. Plus, my parents went there in the 90s so it’s kind of gone full circle now.” 

Ironically, it was a family member going far from home that had an impact on Jackson’s decision.

“My sister is an All-American softball player and she went to Utah,” related Jackson, a 6-1 175-pounder. “It’s tough for her being far from home and not seeing family. I like the idea of staying closer to home. My grandparents were happy we did. They bought Eastern tickets the day we committed.”

Going to school with his twin brother admittedly brings a bit of comfort to Jackson, whose other main college interest came from Western Michigan, Saint Xavier and Virginia Wesleyan.

“Growing up we played wiffle ball every day in the yard,” reflected Jackson, who was home-schooled until eighth grade. “We’re doing a program now to do online while playing in high school at Howell so we have the flexibility of training in the morning. It’s nice to always have a BP and throwing partner.”

With one being a pitcher and the other a catcher, the relationship is strong.

“He knows my pitches inside and out,” noted Justin. “He knows what to throw in situations and what to throw to certain hitters.”

Actually, the roles were reversed at an early age.

“In Rec Ball at eight or nine I wanted to catch and he wanted to pitch,” Justin related. “But that changed the first year of travel ball at 10. I wanted to pitch and he wanted to catch.”

It hasn’t always been smooth, however.

“We’ve had our ups and downs being brothers,” Jackson admitted. “Back in 13-14 U we’d get mad at each other in the dugout. But as we’ve gotten older and matured I know how to help him and how to get on him. I know how to handle him and him with me, especially with hitting. We’re able to help each other make adjustments.”

High school coach Jason Ladd has been helpful to each with development while Griffin Green, a coach last year with the Indiana Prospects who is now with USA Prime, has been beneficial in that area as well as the recruiting process,

Trainer Chris Down with Phoenix Athletics has also been a “game changer for me as an athlete,” pointed out Jackson. “He’s gotten me to where I am today.”

Where that is is headed to Eastern where each feels they can benefit the program.

“I’m someone who’s going to go out and throw strikes,” Justin said. “In talking to (first-year pitching) coach (Aaron) Hilt that’s what they need. Then hopefully I’ll be a leader junior and senior years and help build on the culture they want to build.”

Jackson also anticipates being a major asset to Eastern Michigan baseball.

“The biggest thing I pride myself on is work ethic,” Jackson explained. “I’ll come in and try to be the hardest worker. That’s what’s gotten me this far. Natural talent wasn’t really there up until ninth grade.

“I also feel I’m a difference-maker on the defensive side and I feel my bat will be there right away freshman year.”

While both carry a 3.6 GPA, Jackson plans to major in either exercise science or a writing field while Justin is looking at a business major. Either way, the twins look forward to being together at the next level.

“It’s awesome knowing we get to push each other some more,” Justin said of the idea of being on the same college team. “It’s the reason we’re in this position. We’ve pushed each other to help get where we are today.”

Jackson Militello C / 3B / Howell, MI / 2022

Justin Militello RHP / SS / Howell, MI / 2022

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