Tuesday night, something happened that put Slippery Rock University baseball alone on a rather impressive list. In the ninth inning of a 10-2 blowout over the Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics reliever Lou Trivino made his major league debut, striking out two and allowing three baserunners before closing out the game. With Trivino’s debut, SRU is now the only school in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) that can boast having two former baseball players as current major leaguers. Trivino (SRU 2011-13) joins Matt Adams (SRU 2007-09) as former Rock players now in the MLB.
Rock head coach Jeff Messer said that having two major leaguers is a shot in the arm for Slippery Rock baseball.
“To say that we had an Adams, or we had a Trivino, most of the times if you’re a coach,tat doesn’t happen at any level,” Messer said. “I feel pretty fortunate that we’ve had two guys like that. They’re both the type of players that, with all the accomplishments and accolade that they had, they were always team first.”
Much like Adams, Trivino left his mark on SRU while he was here. Despite only playing for three years, Trivino left SRU as the all-time career strikeout record holder with 217 punchouts. This record was just recently broken by current SRU senior Alex Pantuso. Trivino still currently holds the records for most career shutouts (six) and is still in the top ten in innings pitched (213), complete games (14), games started (35) and wins (19). He also ranks high in career earned run average (1.99) and strikeouts per nine innings (9.17).
Messer said that Trivino was the hardest working pitcher he had ever had in his 30-plus years as head coach. He said that the closest player to matching that work ethic was his teammate and current Rock pitching coach, John Kovalik. Kovalik pitched at The Rock from 2011 to 2014.
Kovalik said that he and Trivino were always together when they were both on the team.
“[Trivino] is one of the best people that you will ever meet,” Kovalik said. “He’s really one of the nicest guys that I have ever met. He was one of the best teammates I have ever had as well. The best way to describe him would be determined and competitive.”
Kovalik said that every single time Trivino started a game he gave the team a chance to win like no one else did.
Messer recalled one start Trivino made early in the 2013 season against West Chester University. Trivino was matched up against Golden Rams’ starter Joe Gunkel. Messer said that those two were, at the time, the two best pitchers in the PSAC.
“The two best pitchers during [Trivino’s] era, Lou here and Gunkel in West Chester. They matched up in Florida and they beat us, Gunkel beat us,” Messer said. “You could tell there was something else. Lou was going to get the chance to play at the next level.”
Despite losing, Messer said this game proved that Trivino was a different kind of pitcher. Gunkel is currently in Triple A with the Miami Marlins.
Coming out of Upper Bucks Christian High School in Greenland, Pa. Trivino was not a highly touted recruit. Messer said that SRU was the only school to offer a scholarship to him his junior year and Trivino committed prior to his senior year. Trivino dominated after coming to SRU, putting up 2.53, 1.78 and 1.83 earned run averages his first three years. Trivino was then drafted by the Athletics in the 11th round of the 2013 MLB draft. He spent parts of six years in the minor leagues before his call-up Tuesday night.
So far Trivino has pitched four major league innings, giving up no runs and striking out six. While the rest of his major league career may be a mystery, Kovalik said he only has one question to ask about his old teammate.
“Every time before he started a game he would eat donuts and drink a thing of chocolate milk,” Kovalik said. “I don’t know, but it would be funny if he still did that before he pitches now.”