Towson University pitcher and Calvert Hall graduate Mike Trionfo is honing his game — and a serous tan — this summer
After suiting up for the Fayetteville (N.C.) Swamp Dogs two years ago and the highly regarded Youse's Orioles in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League last summer, Trionfo has taken his talents to the Hamptons, on Long Island, to play for the Riverhead Tomcats in New York.
"I came up here so I could get to the beach pretty much every day," said Trionfo, who lives with a host family. "There are beaches everywhere. It's a really nice area."
When Trionfo isn't at the beach, the 5-foot-9, 175-pound rising senior is sharply focused on excelling for the Tomcats, who compete in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League.
He's compiled a 2-1 record, giving up 20 hits in 23 1/3 innings while striking out 19 and walking eight.
"I start one game a week and come in relief once or twice a week," Trionfo said. "I want to get in the extra work before the (fall) collegiate season starts."
Trionfo's skills have been growing noticeably sharper over the last year. He added a slider and change-up to give him an effective four-pitch repertoire.
Getting work for Tomcats figures to help the Jacksonville resident embellish an already impressive résumé that includes a school-record and Colonial Athletic Association-best 11 wins, seven more than any of his Tiger teammates. He finished with a 3.35 ERA, fanning 52 batters in 83 innings and walking just 31.
Not a bad season, considering Trionfo went 3-6 with a 6.27 ERA in 2011.
"He won 11 games and there are only a handful of guys from across the country who did that," Towson coach Mike Gottlieb said. "He was in select company. I have had guys with better stuff, but he is as competitive and as mentally tough as any pitcher I have had (in 32 years)."
Trionfo's fortunes started to change last fall when Towson pitching coach Scott Roane suggested he develop some new pitches.
Trionfo couldn't say yes fast enough.
"I would have tried anything to have a good year," said Trionfo, who came to Towson because he didn't want to leave home after fielding scholarship offers from Virginia Tech and Radford universities and attracting interest from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Maryland. "Instead of trying to strike everybody out, I pitched more to contact and let my defense do most of the work."
Trionfo was especially impressive late in the 2012 season, helping him earn American Baseball Coach Association/Rawlings All-East first-team honors by leading the Tigers to Colonial Athletic Association playoffs and a three-game sweep of James Madison on the last weekend of the season.
He allowed two runs and eight hits in eight innings while striking out five in an 8-3 victory over James Madison on May 17.
"He went from just another guy to a guy who can carry your ballclub," Gottlieb said. "He wants the ball and he wants to pitch in the tough part of the game. He even plays his position defensively like a shortstop. He will dive after balls."