Valentino to start Friday's opener at Arkansas State

Valentino to start Friday's opener at Arkansas State

OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. — Senior right-hander Frank Valentino will draw the Opening Day assignment for the NYIT baseball team on Friday at 5 p.m. ET at Arkansas State, coach Bob Malvagna announced Tuesday.

"To have the opportunity to pitch in our first game of the season means a lot to me," Valentino said. "It's humbling. I have come a long way. But after that inaugural pitch, it's all business. I won't be preparing differently than any other start.
 
"To be honest, any of our starters could have gotten the ball Game 1 and I would be just as excited to kick off this season. We've worked really hard collectively as a team this offseason and are eager to compete."
 
Fellow senior right-handers Matt Diaz and Elias Martinez will handle Saturday's doubleheader against the Red Wolves, who compete in the Sun Belt Conference. Senior left-hander Ben Wright starts Sunday to complete the season-opening four-game series in Jonesboro, Ark.
 
Valentino went 1-4 with a 5.72 ERA in 13 appearances (seven starts) last season with the Bears. He spent his first two collegiate seasons at Suffolk County Community College.
 

"Last year was a great learning experience for me," Valentino said. "Although I did not have a great statistical season, failure is the most valuable teacher. At Suffolk, I was able to get away with a wider strike zone and some poorly located pitches. As a junior with NYIT, I began toying with the pitches and mindset – unnecessarily changing mechanics and pitch grips as opposed to mastering command and game plan. This past summer I strung together excellent consecutive starts. Since the start of the preseason, I have continued to master pitch location, command and a fearsome demeanor on the mound."

Said senior catcher Robert Fiato: "He is a workhorse. He has great composure. And he competes at such a high level of intensity and never loses his focus. He knows his strengths when goes out there, which all come from his preparation. He pounds the zone and has the ability to command all of his pitches, especially his fastball. It's fun to go out there and compete alongside him. He is a great pitcher and an even better teammate."