Venezuelan-native settling into leadership role

Outfielder returns from injury to find success at plate for Pioneers

Written By Robert Berger, Co-Sports Editor

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When watching some of his favorite professional baseball players play in his home country, Edberg Dominguez began to fall in love with the sport.

After picking up a glove, Dominguez played throughout high school after moving to Miami, Fla. which lead to his recruitment by Point Park.

After an impressive rookie year, Dominguez was sidelined due to an injury for the entirety of what would have been his sophomore season. This year, Dominguez is back on the field for the Pioneers as their starting right fielder.

Dominguez grew up with his parents and brother in Caracas, Venezuela. Growing up in Latin America, Dominguez was exposed to sports for as long as he can remember. Unsure of the age, he picked up baseball after his family encouraged him to try out a sport.

“My family wanted me to play a sport because my name is Edberg, which is also the name of a famous tennis player,” Dominguez said.

Exposure to baseball is inevitable to a kid growing up in South America. During the MLB offseason, Dominguez remembers watching professional players in the Venezuela Winter League, as Caracas hosts two teams.

“Watching them play was awesome,” Dominguez said. “You would see guys like Roy Halladay play in the spring and watch them go on to win the Cy Young award that year.”

Dominguez played baseball in his home country from his childhood through his sophomore year of high school. According to Dominguez, America’s take on the sport is more methodical when compared to Venezuela.

“I think you see more fastballs over there,” Dominguez said. “Here, pitchers try to throw you different kinds of pitches which makes for a tough transition.”

After moving to Miami with his uncle after his sophomore year of high school, Dominguez played his junior and senior season at Brito High school, the same school Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles played for and attended.

“In Venezuela, you play in leagues of players within two years of your age,” Dominguez said. “Playing high school here was very different because you’re playing with people that are four years apart and you can definitely tell a freshman from a senior.”

Dominguez graduated high school in 2013. He finished the season batting .385 and earned himself All-American honors.

Out of high school, Dominguez was recruited by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school, St. Thomas University. A redshirt his freshman year, Dominguez was being observed by Point Park because of a connection through head coach Loren Torres.

“My coach in Florida knew Coach Torres from high school and it was an instant connection,” Dominguez said.

In his rookie year as a Pioneer, Dominguez played 41 games in right field and finished with a .289 batting average. He scored 25 runs for the team and drove in six.

After his promising start, Dominguez was looking to pick up where he left off his sophomore year. However, during the 2015 fall season, Dominguez was injured while sliding into second base during a double play situation.

“I was stuck between sliding and stopping, and my knee buckled underneath me,” Dominguez said. “I had to ask the doctor if I would play baseball again, it was that serious.”

A torn ACL and Meniscus was the diagnosis. Luckily for Dominguez, good news came from the doctor, who said he could return to the field after a year of rehab. After nearly 16 months, Dominguez returned to the field this spring during the Pioneers’ trip to Florida.

“He’s recovered incredibly well from the injury,” Torres said. “He’s definitely a spark to our lineup.”

Now an upperclassman for the Pioneers, Dominguez is seen as a role model to many of the younger players fighting for roster spots.

“Whether with the team or by himself, he’s always in the gym working,” sophomore Jesse Iellimo said. “It’s motivating to see how far he’s come since the injury.”

This season, Dominguez has played in 24 games and is hitting for a .338 average. He’s driven in 23 runs for the Pioneers so far.

Assistant Coach Shane Conley played with Dominguez during his freshman season before the injury.

“It’s hard to coach him after the friendship we made playing together,” Conley said. “He works on everything I tell him and he respects me as a coach, which is the best part.”

Since moving to the country and attending Point Park, Dominguez has adjusted well to living in the United States.

“Coming to Pittsburgh was an awesome transition,” Dominguez said. “I’ve got to meet new cultures and experience a whole new way to live and I really like it.”

As for a career after college, Dominguez isn’t ruling anything out.

“My main focus is school and helping the team, but if the opportunity is there I’d love to keep playing baseball after college,” Dominguez said.

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