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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Steady Salvador is Excelling in First Season with UMass Boston Baseball Team

Oftentimes in the 2008 baseball season, Eric Salvador has been the lone bright Beacon in a harbor of offensive inconsistency, guiding stray base runners home game after game. His strategy: keep things simple and just play baseball. The junior is hitting .354 on the season while driving in 22 runs, leading the team in run production. He also sports a substantial .435 on-base percentage to go along with 12 doubles, many of which seem to come when the Beacons most need an extra base hit.

“Eric has been extremely consistent with his hitting and is an on-base machine,” Beacons Head Coach Brendan Eygabroat said. “He’s really given us a lift on a team that has struggled offensively for most of the season.”

The team is hitting .266 on the year, so when they need a key run, they turn to Salvador. He’s not afraid of the big moment, playing in the Junior College World

Series in 2007 as a member of the Massasoit Community College team.

“The kid’s a stud,” first baseman Connor Reinfurt declared. Reinfurt, no stranger to the dramatic hit himself with two ninth-inning homeruns this year, relies on Salvador and said, “He always seems to come through clutch with that two-out RBI hit.”

Known as “Sal” to everyone in the baseball program, the Middleboro, MA, product is one of the more popular players among teammates, thanks to his sense of humor and laidback demeanor. He never seems to be anxious or nervous, and makes the game look easy. Between the lines and in the dugout, he contributes rarely noticed consistency and quiet leadership.

“He brings a quiet confidence, leads by example and has been a real plus to the program,” Eygabroat said. Salvador also brings Division I baseball experience,

as he spent 2004 as a red-shirt for the University of Rhode Island. He later transferred to Massasoit, where he was a Junior College third-team All-American.

The offensive approach for Salvador isn’t complicated, as he excels when he simplifies his attack. “My goal is to be aggressive. I look for a pitch in a certain spot, and make sure I don’t miss it,” Salvador said. “Every at-bat, I just try to be better than the pitcher.”

As evidenced by his numbers, Salvador seems to be better than just about every pitcher he’s seen. However, he knows that there is room for improvement in his game. “I’m always looking to polish the little things,” the catcher-turned-DH-turned-first baseman said. “You can always get better.”

Salvador began the season sitting atop the catching depth chart. However, the emergence of Tim Fontaine in spring training altered Salvador’s role in the lineup. Fontaine began the season hitting around .400 in addition to displaying a laser arm from behind the dish. To accommodate both bats in the lineup, Eygabroat shifted Salvador to the designated hitter role. Rather than complain, Salvador settled into his new role without skipping a beat.

“It is tough for someone who is used to playing the field every day to adjust to the DH role, but he’s handled it well,” Eygabroat, a former catcher himself, said. “He’s shown a lot of class and leadership by not griping about it.”

While some players over-focus on offense, if not distracted by defensive duties, the business major seems to thrive when given time during games to analyze his swing. “Being the DH helps me figure out previous at-bats, and prepare for my next at-bat,” Salvador said.

Eygabroat agrees with that statement, and marveled at his ability to separate tough at-bats from future ones. “He does a good job of not carrying his at-bats to the next,” the coach said. “If he doesn’t have a good at-bat, he lets it go.”

Salvador’s mental approach helps him stay consistent in a long season that will undoubtedly feature nearly 150 plate appearances. While most hitters seem to beprone to streaks throughout the year, Salvador’s batting average has stayed in the .350-.400 range all season.

While Salvador is getting the bulk of his starts at designated hitter, he hasn’t given up on the defensive possibilities he brings to the Beacon lineup.

“I’ve played a lot of different positions,” Salvador said, referring to his defensive versatility. It’s clear that despite DH duties, Salvador is confident with the leather. “You don’t forget how to catch and throw,” the junior said. “It’s still just baseball.”

Even beyond defense, his last statement rings true. It is still baseball. Whether on defense or in the batter’s box, everything is simplified in his world. Just like the well-known acronym, K.I.S.S., only with a Beacon-twist: Keep It Simple, Salvador.