Kevin Biondic stepped into the batter’s box on Sunday with an 0-1 count in the top of the seventh inning. He crouched down to bunt, then took a pitch to the mouth.
Rather than walk off for medical help, Biondic dropped to one knee, motioning emphatically to the Terps’ dugout for a trainer to come take a look at his lip.
“The [pitch] just came up and in, just got me in the mouth with the ball,” said Biondic, who had a cut on his lip after Maryland’s series-deciding win over Bryant. “What’re you going to do… it’s just one of those things, it happens.”
After a trainer dabbed the blood off Biondic’s lip, he stepped back into the box, and two pitches later hit the ball toward the shortstop, moving the runner from second to third and reaching on a fielder’s choice. That runner eventually came in to score, helping secure Maryland’s 5-3 win in the rubber match to take the weekend series.
The senior has become a fixture for Terps fans this season, transitioning from a smaller role last year to being the team’s first baseman and occasional relief pitcher. He already has 61 at-bats this season, compared to 68 total at-bats last year.
Last year he could be seen heading down to the bullpen in the middle of a game to throw a few pitches before going in at first base. This year, if Biondic heads to the bullpen in the fourth or fifth, it means he’s going to take the mound later as a reliever.
“I have to run down there and start doing my arm work and get my arm loose a little bit,” said Biondic. “About the sixth…or the seventh I really start warming up to pitch, then I’ll have to go out to the field and throw some warm up pitches, which is kind of strange seeing it out there.”
Biondic started pitching in high school, first as a starting pitcher his freshman year and then sophomore year as a closer for the varsity team. During that time he also played second base, third base and outfield.
“Sophomore year they just said go out there and do whatever you want,” said Biondic. “I figured it out on the mound.”
This summer he returned to the mound for the first time since high school, working as a first baseman and pitcher for the Thunder Bay Border Cats in the Northwoods League in Canada. There, Biondic excelled, batting .254 with 43 hits and 26 RBIs. On the mound he pitched 16 ⅔ innings in seven games, with a 1.62 ERA, one of the team’s best.
“We’re starting to trust him on the mound,” said Maryland head coach Rob Vaughn. “We rolled him out this summer a little bit, we saw him pitch through this fall.
“He might go give up some runs and this and that, but he’s just been a reliable guy. You know what you’re getting out of him. You know you’re going to get a guy that competes. You know you’re going to get a guy that’s not scared.”
Biondic is currently hitting .262 with 14 RBIs, nine of which came during the Johnny Gardner Law Group Invitational in Conway, South Carolina, earlier this season. During the first game of the series Biondic acted as closer, pitching the last inning and securing the 11-4 win over Radford.
“Everybody knows he’s a hard worker and he’s going to bring a lot of energy,” said senior catcher Justin Morris. “He’s also one of our toughest guys…everybody can just look to him when times are tough.”
Biondic attributes some of this toughness to his career as a hockey goalie at Brother Rice High School in Chicago.
“It’s made me tougher, definitely. I think getting pucks shot at you from close range and very fast helps me with picks and whatnot [at first base].”
But it’s not just hockey that’s made him tough. To Vaughn it’s just part of Biondic’s makeup.
“He is a tough dude,” said Vaughn. “He’s very very selfless…if we hit .150 and win the game, he does not care one bit, all he cares about is us succeeding. I think [that] just lends itself to him having success as a senior.”
According to Vaughn, Biondic’s success isn’t just on the baseball field.
“That guy’s going to do some really cool things one day,” said Vaughn. “He’s a good student, he’s worked his tail off in the classroom to do a good job there.”
After he finishes his time at Maryland, Biondic, a criminal justice major, wants to join the Chicago police force. He then hopes to work his way up to become a member of a SWAT team.
“I want to try to make Chicago a little safer,” said Biondic.
His attitude and goals both on and off the field have proven that he’ll always be a team player, whether he’s protecting the streets of Chicago, or protecting a one-run lead for the Terps.
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