Coming into the season, a big question mark on the Miami Hurricanes baseball team was the inexperience in the starting rotation. Sophomore Vince Bongiovanni has helped answer those questions.
Bongiovanni has emerged as the number two starter, holding a 4-1 record with a 2.59 ERA this season. The right-hander’s pitching has really improved from last season, when he had a 1-4 record with a 6.29 ERA as a mid-week starter and long reliever.
“As a pitcher, he has progressed a lot,” head coach Jim Morris said. “He’s learned a lot as a pitcher and he has gotten mentally tough. He’s done a lot to get to the next level.”
With the injury to ‘Canes ace Dan Touchet, who is out for the season with Tommy John surgery awaiting, Bongiovanni becomes even more important to the team’s plans to go to the College World Series for the third time in five years.
“Our goal is to go to Omaha, and we definitely have the talent to do it,” Bongiovanni said.
Bongiovanni’s success on the mound dates back to his days at Barrington High School in Illinois where he set the team’s all-time strikeout record. In his senior year, he was named to the All-State, All-Area, and All-Conference team. That year, Bongiovanni struck out 87 batters in 68 innings, including 18 strikeouts in one game. He also led his team in hitting, batting .401 with 12 homeruns and 47 RBIs.
Perhaps his success at the plate is due to being a late relative of one of his role models, former New York Yankee great Joe DiMaggio.
“Joe DiMaggio is a distant relative of mine and someone I’ve looked up to on the field,” Bongiovanni said.
Along with being a baseball star, Bongiovanni played on the basketball team in high school. Basketball remains to be one of his off the diamond hobbies. Morris says that Bongiovanni’s athleticism is one of the things that make him a very good pitcher.
“He has a high ceiling and he has not even reached it yet,” Morris said.
Bongiovanni has been very grateful for the support of his family, especially his mom and dad, who come to every game to root their son on. Bongiovanni says his family is the most important thing in his life and something that has helped shape him as a person.
“My family is a big time supporter,” Bongiovanni said. My dad has always been positive whether I’ve been good or bad on the mound.”
One of Bongiovanni’s best assets is that he is a team player and a very nice person both on and off the field. Morris praises both his character and his worth ethic.
“Vince is a nice guy who is always joking around,” Morris said. “The guys on the team like to be around him and he is an important player for this team. He is a generous guy and a very hard worker.”
Darren Grossman can be reached at DRG215@aol.com.