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And they call him ‘The Boom’

Mark Schnabel
mschnabel@thekansan.com
Newton Rebel Enzo Bonventre, a junior at Lake Erie College in northeast Ohio, has seven home runs for the team this season and is one of the team's all-time leaders in home runs.

They call him ‘The Boom.’

After three years as a Newton Rebel, the catcher, first baseman and designated hitter from Detroit has amassed 19 home runs, which puts him among the team’s all-time leaders.

His seven home runs this season tie for the team lead and tie for fourth in the Sunflower Collegiate League with teammate Lincoln Andrews.

“My numbers weren’t where I wanted them to be this season, but I’ve made a couple of adjustments and went on from there,” Bonventre said. “I’ve been using this season as a learning experience and developing some parts of my game that I thought needed help.”

Bonventre came to the Rebels from Lake Erie College, an NCAA Division II school in Painesville, Ohio, in the far northeast part of the state, where he majors in business. He transferred to Lake Erie after two seasons at Cuyahoga Community College in Parma, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland.

“(Lake Erie) is in the home area,” Bonventre said. “I went to junior college out there in the Cleveland area. It’s only about an hour away from Cleveland.”

While Bonventre may be a big-city kid, he’s enjoyed his time in small-town Kansas.

“My coach asked me if I wanted to play in the Jayhawk League,” Bonventre said. “I was looking to play the most competitive baseball. The option was to come out and play in Kansas, so I took advantage of that. I took a liking to that and have spent my last three summers out here to this day.”

Bonventre was one of seven Rebels named to the Sunflower League All-Star Game this season.

“I love coming out there and hanging out with all the guys,” Bonventre said. “I get to play with all the other guys in the league I’ve played with all those years. The competition is great. It’s a lot of fun to see all that’s going on and talk to guys you don’t get to talk to on a daily basis.”

He also competed in the league’s home-run derby. One of his highlights of the festivities was running the bases with Jessica Kilpatrick, of Haysville, who is battling cancer.

She was being honored as part of the league’s partnership with Gold Gloves Charities, Inc.

“I’ve seen that stuff affect my own life. My own mom had cancer,” he said. “I realize how mentally and emotionally hard that was for me to deal with. I saw (Kilpatrick) out there all by herself. I just wanted to show some support and be the one to make a difference and make that person’s day.”

His college season this year was halted after just 11 games because of the COVID-19 outbreak. He then had to wait nearly three months to get back in the game.

“There’s not a guy in this league who won’t tell you it’s not a tough transition,” Bonventre said. “Even from a team aspect. We were able to break it down into small groups of guys. Even when we get back in the fall, we’re probably going to have to break it down into small groups of guys. Just having that repetition on the field to get the ball rolling as a team. It takes a bit of getting used to to get the wheels going again and get back on the same page as everyone else.”

In addition to his home runs with the Rebels, he has 12 home runs in junior college and had four in his shortened season with Lake Erie.

“It’s just sitting back and finding your pitch to hit,” Bonventre said. “You’re not trying to do too much with them. I think the big thing about home runs is trying not to hit them. You just want to hit the ball hard and find a good spot to hit it. You do that, it takes care of itself. Just getting in there and being nice and smooth — not overdoing it, over thinking it, overswinging it. You want to stay looser and faster.”

While the Rebels appear to be eliminated from the National Baseball Congress World Series race this season, he’s hoping to get picked up by another team.

“I’d really like to get in contact with a couple teams that are in the NBC,” he said. “I can never get enough baseball. I’d like to play as long as I can. I’ll be looking for a team to ride with.”

Enzo Bonventre

Enzo Bonventre

C-1B-DH

Junior, Lake Erie College

Stats

2020: .277 batting average, 28 hits, 7 home runs, 22 RBIs

2019: .394 batting average, 43 hits, 7 home runs, 43 RBIs

2018: .328 batting average, 21 hits, 5 home runs, 17 RBIs

Rebels career: .336 batting average, 92 hits, 19 home runs, 83 RBIs