DARIEN — Don Buonavolanto got plunked on the knee with a baseball and sat out Hinsdale South’s baseball doubleheader with Leyden last weekend as a precaution.
“We’re pretty solid as a group defensively, so we probably missed him more at the plate,” Hinsdale South coach Paul Hoel said. “Not that he’s not a great defender, too, but it was one of those days with the wind blowing in and you knew it was going to be tough to score runs, and without him it was even tougher.”
Buonavolanto returned to action with a vengeance Monday, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs as the Hornets topped Leyden 4-1 to sweep the three-game West Suburban Gold series. The Hornets won the first two games of the series 2-1 and 1-0. The three-game sweep lifted the Hornets record to 10-3 overall, 7-2 in the Gold.
If the Buonavolanto name sounds familiar in conjunction with Hinsdale South baseball, that’s because Joe Buonavolanto, Don’s older brother, was a three-year varsity player before graduating in 2006. Joe was a piece of the puzzle during the Hornets’ deep playoff run in 2004; Don was a part of South’s WSG conference title last year.
Hinsdale South baseball success and the Buonavolanto name just seem to go together.
“They’re both really good hitters,” Hoel said of the brothers. “Donnie is a little bit faster, runs better, but I would say Joey might give you a little more power. Don is more of a doubles and gap-hitter kind of guy, but he still has pretty good power as a junior. He’s hit a couple out.”
The fact that Don has had success in his first two varsity seasons shouldn’t come as a surprise.
“I didn’t get to play with Joe, but he taught me a lot of what I know about the game,” Don said. “It was nothing strategic, but just about the mental approach to the game.”
Buonavolanto shared time at shortstop last season with Jerry Stoltz. This year he’s the starter at short with Stoltz starting at third base. Joe Oehmen (second base), Grant Morford (first base) and Brian Hoel (fifth infielder) add to the infield depth, which has helped pitchers like Mike Rizzo, Matt Reschke and Mike Marrera get off to solid starts this season.
“The main thing has been our pitching,” Buonavolanto said. “When the pitching is good, it’s easy to support them. Our defense has been good, but the main thing is our pitching has been really good.”
As a slick-fielding shortstop with some power, Buonavolanto is a near-lock to play at the next level.
“He’s one of the best junior middle infielders in the state,” Hoel said. “People know about him. I’ve talked to scouts about him so he’s on the radar.”
Buonavolanto said he plans on playing college, but for now he’s concentrating on this season, which he hopes will culminate in another conference title.
“There’s always room for improvement,” he said. “If I had to say one thing, we could maybe improve our hitting as a team, but really, everything is going really well for us right now.”