PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Two years ago, spring sports were turned upside down with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a local baseball senior is staying close to home to play college ball and is thankful for the many that helped him get there. 

For Rex Putnam senior shortstop Vinny Salvione, the pandemic made baseball “weird at times.” But now that he’s a senior, he has plenty of perspective on the last two seasons. 

“There’s a lot of guys out here if you come down to Portland, they can compete with anyone,” Salvione said.

While Salvione has already achieved his long-time goal of moving on to play at the next level, the 5-foot-11 righty has committed to play baseball at the University of Portland (UP). 

With a little help from a good friend, his parents, and a major leaguer, Salvione defied the pandemic odds.  

“My sophomore summer, right after the big part of quarantine – there’s a local guy Keynan Middleton, and he plays for the Diamondbacks. At the time, he was with the Angels and he would come down and he would throw bullpens and he needed some hitters, so I went down there and I would hit off of him.” 

With the power of social media, Salvione began to get noticed.  

“He’s a big leaguer right, so he’s getting me out, but I had a couple of videos with some good swings off of him. So, I started sending those out. I made a Twitter and put them on Twitter,” Salvione explained. 

He also had a Pilots connection. 

“My buddy KJ Ruffo, who also went to Putnam, he’s over at Portland. So, he helped me out too – got me connected with the coaches and then it was just a good fit for over there,” Salvione said.

He also thanks his parents for always harping on him to keep his grades up since UP is such a prestigious school.

“I’m really thankful for my parents that they push me and made sure I was on top of everything. It paid off in the long run,” Salvione said. 

But the Bluff will have to wait, first it’s Kingsmen time.