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A Texas-size adjustment

Bear River grad Giacomini adjusting to the Division II ranks at Texas-Permian Basin
By: Ray Hacke Journal Sports Writer
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Even for an All-American, the jump from one level of a sport to the next can be a challenging one. Ryan Giacomini can attest to that. The Bear River High graduate dominated on the baseball diamond last season at Feather River College in Quincy, leading the Golden Valley Conference with nine home runs and 60 RBIs. Those numbers, and others, were good enough for Giacomini to earn the GVC’s Player of the Year Award as well as junior college All-America honors. “That’s one of the favorite accomplishments I’ve ever had,” Giacomini said of becoming an All-American. Now a junior first baseman at the University of Texas-Permian Basin, an NCAA Division II school in Odessa, Texas, Giacomini has seen his playing time – and his numbers – drop significantly this season. Giacomini has appeared in 28 games for UTPB (26-10, 25-11 Heartland Conference), more than half of them (16) as a starter. He’s batting .276 (compared with .377 a year ago) with no home runs and has just 11 RBIs. He’s also among the Falcons’ team leaders in strikeouts with 13. Part of the challenge Giacomini has faced is that “up here, everyone is good.” Not only do his teammates have skills, abilities and talents that at minimum match his own, his opponents do as well. Yet Giacomini is taking his reduced playing time – and his struggles – in stride. “It was a difficult transition in the beginning because I was used to playing every game,” he said. “But everyone has their role, and I’m perfectly fine with mine. If I don’t play one day, we play intrasquad the next. I’ll get my at-bats one way or another.” Giacomini has shown at least some of the power he displayed last season – four of his 16 hits (three doubles, one triple) have gone for extra bases. Giacomini has also performed well in the field – he’s third on UTPB with 108 putouts and has made just three fielding errors in 116 chances. A history major, Giacomini is considering becoming a teacher, though he may also try to pursue a business degree, which was his original goal. “My goal is to end up coaching baseball somewhere, and we’ll see what I can do besides that,” he said. He knows his time in baseball is growing short. Having dislocated his right knee twice in high school, his doctors told him he should never play again. Giacomini already beaten the odds just by being on the field at the college level, but he has no cartilage under his kneecap and has to take Ibuprofen daily to deal with his knee pain. “Next year will probably be my last year in baseball,” Giacomini said. “I’m going to try and enjoy it and not let it affect me. “Turning pro is a goal, but I’ve got to be realistic with myself. I’d love a chance to play professionally, but with my knee, who knows? If it works out, that would be great.”