On a team where 30 out of 36 players hail from the Lone Star State, Texas Longhorns baseball pitcher Matteo Bocchi certainly stands out.
That’s because the junior right-handed pitcher is the first Italian-born player in Texas baseball program history. The Parma native joined the ‘Horns in 2018 after playing two seasons at Odessa College in Odessa, Texas.
“I never visited Odessa so I didn’t know what to expect,” Bocchi said of the West Texas school. “The lifestyle was very different, but actually the weather for baseball was awesome.”
Bocchi roomed with fellow current Longhorn Masen Hibbeler at Odessa, and the two struck up a friendship.
“I knew I was coming to Texas before Matteo did, and I told the (Longhorns) coaches here, ‘you really need to look at this guy because he has good stuff,’” Hibbeler said in an interview with the Longhorn Network.
Bocchi’s potential caught David Pierce’s eye, and Longhorn legend Greg Swindell also had a connection with Bocchi after seeing the towering righty at an MLB camp in 2014. Bocchi ended up joining his roommate and picking Texas.
Bocchi is already off to a solid start for the ‘Horns in 2018. He hones a 2.84 ERA and has an opponent batting average of .158 across his two appearances (one start) and 6.1 innings pitched.
And there’s no doubt that Pierce has the 6’4 Italian’s back, because the Texas skipper got tossed for the first time in a Longhorns uniform after arguing a walk call that went against Bocchi.
You can learn more about the “Italian Stallion”, such as his appearance in the 2008 Little League World Series for Team Italy, in this feature by the Longhorn Network below.