VALLEJO, Calif. — Former NYIT right-hander Frank Valentino now has a professional baseball win on his résumé.
In his pro debut on Friday with the Vallejo Admirals, Valentino allowed two runs on one hit and four walks while striking out six in five innings in an eventual 5-3 victory against the Pittsburg Diamonds.
"It's a long way away from my ultimate goal of the big leagues, but it's certainly a start," said Valentino, who graduated from NYIT in May 2017 with a bachelor's degree in communication arts. "Earning a win is just icing on the cake."
Valentino had signed with the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball club last Monday after successfully auditioning in Fort Lauderdale.
He is one of two members of the Class of 2017 to be playing professional baseball. Third baseman Louis Mele is with the Washington Wild Things in the Frontier League.
Since graduating, Valentino — a West Islip native — had been training locally with friends, staying ready for tryouts in the Atlantic, Frontier and Can-Am leagues. He headed down to Florida in March to participate with a showcase team called the Black Sox. They competed against various independent teams during spring training.
Vallejo Admirals manager P.J. Phillips saw Valentino throw numerous times with the Black Sox during that spring training and came away impressed. The independent club signed him last week.
Since graduation, Valentino also has been working in the construction industry, completing a sports-writing internship, and working as a sales rep for a marketing agency.
After beginning his collegiate career at Suffolk Community College, Valentino pitched for the Bears for two seasons. He had a 5.59 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 124 innings spanning 26 appearances (19 starts) in 2016 and 2017.
"My best memories from NYIT all stem from the guys I got to play with every day — from training together, playing side by side and hanging out in our free time," Valentino said. "Even though those seniors are all doing different things now, we regularly stay in contact, and the good times still roll for the boys."
As for Valentino's professional debut on Friday, Phillips told the Vallejo Times-Herald: "He had to get settled in, being his first professional start and all. Once he got settled in, he got in a groove and he looked good — just what I expected."