When right fielder Brandon Edwards squeezed the final out Saturday, Bloomington High School’s baseball players began a mad dash to celebrate their school’s first sectional championship in 43 years.
Typically, these things occur near the mound, with the pitcher and catcher swallowed up by jubilant, onrushing teammates.
The Purple Raiders raced straight toward center field, swarming Roman Visintine behind second base. He had earned that. And truth be told, there was an urge to join in, even at 55 years old.
Inspiration comes in many forms. Saturday, it manifested itself in Visintine, a senior outfielder/pitcher whose right arm is attached to a shoulder in need of repair.
Surgery on Visintine’s torn labrum was scheduled for this coming Tuesday. He postponed it for two weeks.
“He got the go-ahead (to throw) because he can’t hurt it any more,” BHS coach Steve Clapp said.
“That’s what the doctor told me,” confirmed Visintine. “My arm isn’t conditioned for more than two, three innings. I was kind of stretching it (Saturday). But I had to do what I had to do.”
It meant pitching 4 2/3 innings of gritty relief. If he was in pain — how could he not be? — he never let on.
Visintine’s escape from a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the third kept BHS within 3-1 of tradition-rich Chatham Glenwood.
The Raiders are playing in Tuesday’s Class 3A Sauget Super-Sectional largely because of that … as well as Visintine’s tiebreaking, two-run triple in the eighth of a 9-7 victory.
He was the winning pitcher. He had the winning hit. And it was all because he played/pitched when most people would have been in street clothes or safely in the corner of the dugout.
Visintine started the game in center field and ended it there as sophomore Charlie Cerny got the final three outs.
What he did in between lit a fire under his teammates. They made that clear with the singular focus of their postgame celebration.
It moved his coach as well.
“I tell you what, man, he’s a great kid,” said a misty eyed Clapp. “He’s been one of our leaders. I can’t say enough good things about the kid. I just couldn’t be happier for him.”
Veteran Glenwood coach Pat Moomey called Visintine “gutsy.” He is at least that.
“All day, I thought he was the big key to the game,” Moomey added.
It should be noted Visintine relieved another senior who is pitching mostly on will. Kent Frantz was the Big 12 Conference Pitcher of the Year last season. This year, he has thrown sparingly because of a strained elbow.
Yet, there he was Saturday, taking the ball and, afterward, icing his arm.
“They’re really grinding it right now,” Clapp said of Frantz and Visintine. “He (Frantz) is a kid who they’ve said has hit 90 (mph) or maybe a little plus and he’s nowhere near that right now. He’s just giving us all his heart.”
Frantz was among the Raiders to charge Visintine when the game ended. They couldn’t get there fast enough.
“I’ve never been in a dog pile like that,” Visintine said. “It was crazy. It’s a moment I’ll never forget, for sure.”