In Focus: The Specialist
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Brent Bonvillain Strengthens LSU Bullpen
Growing up in nearby Thibodaux, senior pitcher Brent Bonvillain never intended to play baseball at LSU. For the left-handed pitcher, going to school in his hometown was always the plan.
“I went to Nicholls State because it was right in my backyard. I grew up watching Nicholls baseball and it was a no-brainer for me to go there,” Bonvillain said.
After just a year at Nicholls, Bonvillain elected to transfer to Delgado Community College in New Orleans for the 2011 season where he caught LSU coach Paul Mainieri’s eye. His strong performance at Delgado resulted in an offer to play for the Tigers beginning with the 2012 season.
During his first season with the Tigers, Bonvillain had a 4-0 record in 22 appearances and a 3.49 ERA. A shining moment for the pitcher came in a crucial SEC series against top-ranked Florida. Down 7-5, Mainieri put Bonvillain in for the remaining four innings. He did not allow any runs and only one hit to propel the Tigers to an 8-7 victory over the Gators.
For the remainder of the 2012 season, Bonvillain served as a steady relief pitcher for the league champions. The team would go on to win the SEC regular season title and advance to an NCAA Super Regional. While winning the league championship is always important for a successful season, there are expectations for every LSU team. In a program with rich tradition, fans, coaches and players gauge the success of a season by getting to Omaha, the home of the College World Series, and winning a national championship.
“Getting the SEC ring last year was definitely something special,” Bonvillain said. “Seeing the ring got me even more motivated to win a national championship. I see the past rings in the cases and it definitely makes you want one for yourself.”
A month into the 2013 season, Bonvillain’s job has been solidified as a left-handed specialist who will pitch with the game on the line. LSU pitching coach Alan Dunn believes Bonvillain’s role in the bullpen is crucial to the success of the team.
“Brent is a guy that came back and threw the ball extremely well in the fall and preseason,” Dunn said. “He got some starts at the beginning of the season but is now in the bullpen, which makes us an even stronger staff. His pitches fit really well with the bullpen and we are looking for him to be that guy to come in and get the job done.”
Bonvillain credits much of his success at LSU to Dunn, who has had a large influence on the pitching staff in his second season with the Tigers.
“He is probably one of the most influential coaches I’ve had since I started playing baseball,” Bonvillain said. “Just the way he is able to relate how to throw a pitch and break down things into baseball terms is something a lot of coaches don’t have.”
Four years ago, Bonvillain never imagined himself in Purple and Gold. His dream was always to play for the hometown team, but fortunately for the senior, opportunities came that led him to Baton Rouge.
“I don’t regret anything that I have done and how I’ve gotten here,” Bonvillain said. “I’m very fortunate to have ended up at LSU and I would do it all over again. I wouldn’t change my experiences for the world.”