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Manteca grad Pisano will use extra year of eligibility with NAIA baseball power
Bulletin alumni 2020
Manteca High alumnus Dominic Pisano connects for a base hit in a game for Freed-Hardeman University. MCCALL DECKER/Courtesy photo

Dominic Pisano is in no hurry to end his baseball career.

The 2015 Manteca High graduate is taking advantage of his extra year of eligibility granted by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics after his senior season with Freed-Hardeman University was ended abruptly by the COVID-19 pandemic. Pisano is back home in Manteca wrapping up his studies from a distance.

He's taking 18 units and is set to graduate with a degree in arts and humanities. The plan is for him to return to the school in Henderson, Tenn. in August for a possible graduation ceremony. He'll then pursue another degree in business administration. 

Pisano, 22, already has an associates degree in criminal justice, which is not offered at FHU. He's eyeing a career as a firefighter, but he wants to keep playing ball for as long as he can.

“It means everything,” Pisano said of the opportunity to reboot his final year of eligibility. “This is what I've been doing since I was 5 years old. I am lucky and grateful to be able to go back and finish out my college career.”

Freed-Hardeman is a national power under 11th-year head coach Jonathan Estes, a top-25 team in the NAIA the past seven seasons. The Lions won 47 games each of the past two years, advancing to the NAIA World Series and reaching the 2018 championship game. 

Pisano, who starts at center field, batted .307 with 41 runs, three homers and 31 RBIs as a junior. FHU was ranked eighth nationally with a 17-5 record when the NAIA canceled the rest of spring sports on March 16. NAIA also announced that spring sports athletes would not be charged a season of competition.

“I actually paused for a second,” Pisano said. “I probably took a week to comprehend everything. Once I knew what I wanted to do, I talked to Coaches Estes and said 'I want to come back if you and the coaching staff would love for me to come back I'd be more than happy to.'

“Our purpose this year was to win a national championship but that was cut short.”

Bulletin alumni 2020
Manteca's Dominic Pisano makes the diving catch in the outfield in a Valley Oak League game against cross-town rival East Union on April 24, 2014. - photo by HIME ROMERO/Bulletin file photo

Pisano has always played for a winner, going back to his days with Manteca Little League. He was on the varsity team all four years at Manteca, earning All-Valley Oak League first-team honors three times. In 2014, he helped the Buffaloes capture their first VOL title in 29 years, the program's first-ever Sac-Joaquin Section championship and the Cal-Hi Sports Division III State Team of the Year award.

Pisano enrolled at Delta College after high school and decided to red-shirt because the Mustangs' highly-touted baseball program was loaded with returning talent. 

Then in 2018, Delta garnered its third California Community College Athletic Association state title while ending at No. 2 in the Perfect Game JUCO National Poll. Pisano was named to the All-Big 8 Conference second team, hitting .343 while not making an error in 47 games played.

“I was just talking to my dad about that recently,” Pisano said. “Every year since I growing up to now I was always playing for a winning team. I've been blessed.”

Pisano said he is adjusting to life as a “regular student without baseball to keep me sane” but enjoys spending more time with the family. He looks forward to heading back to Tennessee to help mentor his younger teammates the same way others did for him at Delta.

While his focus remains on schoolwork and winning that NAIA title, going pro is the ultimate goal.

“I would like to sign a professional contract, whether it's major league, minor league or independent ball,” Pisano said. “I do wish to play beyond college. It has always been a goal since I was young. I've made it this far and feel great, and as long as I'm healthy I want to continue pursuing that dream.”