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Power surge for former Bruin

After overcoming injury, Giacomini finds his swing at Feather River
By: Ray Hacke Journal Sports Writer
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Ryan Giacomini was admittedly never much of a home run hitter before coming to Feather River College. “I’d never hit more than one home run in a season at any level,” he said. The 2006 graduate of Bear River High would thus seem an unlikely candidate to lead his collegiate conference in round-trippers. But that’s exactly what Giacomini has accomplished — and he was named the Golden Valley Conference’s Player of the Year to boot. Giacomini recently completed his sophomore season at Feather River, during which the 6-foot-1 first baseman swatted a GVC-high nine home runs in 43 regular-season games and also led the conference in RBIs with 60. “I wasn’t expecting to hit nine home runs,” Giacomini said. “I just had a whole new confidence this year. I was just swinging hard and (the ball) was going out. It just kind of happened that way.” Giacomini hit .377 (58-for-154) during the regular season and was among the GVC’s leaders in several other offensive categories, including total bases (first, 109), runs scored (second, 59) and slugging percentage (second, .708). Feather River coach Terry Baumgartner said the key to Giacomini’s success on the field has been his willingness to put in extra work off of it – particularly in the weight room. “He’s gotten bigger and stronger over the years,” Baumgartner said. “He understands how to hit balls better than he did when he first got here, too.” “I don’t feel I did anything different (with my swing),” Giacomini said. “I just worked hard in the weight room for three years and it paid off. “I was also way more aggressive (at the plate). If you make hard contact consistently, some of them are going to go out.” Giacomini’s offensive numbers weren’t the only reason GVC coaches chose him as the conference’s Player of the Year. “Defensively, he’s one of the best first basemen I’ve seen around the bag,” Baumgartner said. “When an infielder makes a bad throw, he can pick it and make it look good. He’s eliminated a lot of errors from our infield.” Giacomini’s efforts helped Feather River (42-5) win its second consecutive GVC crown. The Golden Eagles were also ranked 11th nationally before losing two games in the California Community College Athletic Association Super Regional that Feather River hosted last weekend. In postseason play, Giacomini struggled, hitting .188 with three RBIs and striking out five times in 16 at-bats. He also led the GVC in strikeouts during the regular season with 36. The fact that Giacomini is even on the field – let alone the GVC’s home run champ and Player of the Year – is a miracle in itself. Giacomini dislocated his right knee twice during his first two varsity seasons at Bear River. His doctor told him that he had no cartilage under his kneecap – and he should never play again. Still, Giacomini returned to the diamond for his senior season, and except for the season he redshirted at Feather River in 2007, he’s been playing regularly ever since. “My doctor’s surprised that I’m still playing every summer when I see him for a check-up,” Giacomini said. “Maybe I should stop for health reasons, but when you love the game, you don’t want to stop. That’s just the way it is.” “I’ve upgraded my knee brace from a simple one to a big one to hold my knee in place,” he added. “As long as it’s working, I’m going to keep using it.” Giacomini has not yet chosen the four-year school to which he plans to transfer. So far, he’s gotten only one scholarship offer – from Missouri Western State University, an NCAA Division II school. “In junior college, you don’t find out (who’s interested) until after the season anyway,” he said. There’s an outside chance that Giacomini could be selected in next month’s Major League Baseball draft. If that happens, Giacomini said, “I’ll have to make a big decision.” “Pro scouts have been at our games, but not necessarily for me,” Giacomini said. “We’ve got a lot of good talent on our team.” “He won’t get drafted this year,” Baumgartner said. “He’s got a couple of years of seasoning before he can start looking at that.” Baumgartner said Giacomini will most likely end up at a Division II school because Giacomini is close to earning his associate’s degree in business. Giacomini would be a third-year transfer, and the NCAA requires third-year transfers to Division I schools to complete 60 percent of their degrees at the institutions to which they transfer. At a D-II school, Giacomini won’t lose most of the credits he’s already earned, according to Baumgartner. “It would be the best fit for him academically and baseball-wise,” the coach said. Giacomini doesn’t regret his decision to stay an extra year at the junior college level. “I knew I had to have a good year to get some good (scholarship) offers,” Giacomini said. “I had a good year. Hopefully I’ll start getting the offers soon.”