They Call Him "Dad": Lombardi Back Again

Photo Courtesy of Keithsanpeiphoto.com
Photo Courtesy of Keithsanpeiphoto.com

As part of a new weekly featurette series, PacificTigers.com will explore the unique, inspirational, groundbreaking or just plain interesting accomplishments of our student-athletes, coaches and staff members off the playing surface.

 by Matthew Monges

Stockton, Calif. - Bryce Lombardi, a 6 ft 3, 200 lb, 22-year-old pitcher, is back for his fifth year with the Pacific Tigers. Lombardi grew up in Napa, California and as a fifth-year senior, he has shed his fair share of blood, sweat and tears. Bryce has been playing the game of baseball since he was five years old and 17 years later he's found himself looking back on his college career.

As a freshman for the Tigers, Bryce pitched in a career-high 30.2 innings, starting three games and appearing in 19 total.  He's grown since there, becoming a leader on the team as he's aged into Pacific's most experienced pitcher.

This year, Bryce's role is as someone that the younger guys look up to. As the longest-tenured Tiger, Bryce is a leader on and off the field.  Above all, he stresses the importance of demonstrating respect in every interaction to the younger Tigers.  "Showing respect to others will almost always be reciprocated," says Bryce, a mantra he tries to live by on and off the field.

Bryce does his best to serve as a role model on the field as well for Pacific. He has been around the block a few times so he knows nearly everyone's role on the team. At this point in his career, he knows what works and what doesn't. It's why the rest of the team calls Bryce by his nickname: Dad.

When the younger players have questions, more often than not Bryce has an answer for them. Yet this accumulation of knowledge did not come over night. Bryce says that his sophomore year was his biggest turning point as a student athlete. "Until then, I wasn't always in the best of shape," says Bryce. Starting that year, Bryce took his dedication to another level and began hitting the weights at 6:00 am six days a week and lost almost 40 pounds.  During that season, Bryce struck out 14 batters in 26.1 innings, appearing in 25 games for the Tigers.

Moreover, Bryce has dealt with plenty of adversity in the sport he loves. Just last year, he had a season-ending injury to his elbow which he thought would end his career in baseball. After striking out 12 in 16.2 innings as a junior, suddenly Bryce was on the shelf for the entire season.  Bryce was able to use his medical redshirt to come back and play one last year as a Tiger. Having thought last year would be his final at Pacific, Bryce is especially grateful for the opportunity to play this year.

While it would be easy for him to reminisce over his time here and get swallowed up in nostalgia, Bryce is still more concerned with competing than anything else. This year, Lombardi says the team's main goal is to reach the top four in the WCC in order to make the conference tournament.  "It's important to take it all one step at a time," says Bryce about Pacific's march toward their postseason goals.

As for his own personal achievements, Bryce is less focused on the numbers and statistics as he is on simply competing and enjoying the game. Knowing that this will be his last final chance, Bryce wants to "give it everything [he's] got, go play hard and have fun doing it."  Bryce has played in 60 games for Pacific in his career and looks forward to adding even more to that total this year.

Ultimately, Bryce believes that joining Pacific baseball is the best decision he has made in his life and he could not be anymore thankful for what the experience has given him. Bryce will graduate this May with a degree in accounting and finance and is looking to work in Sacramento once he hangs up the cleats for Pacific.  Even though his time on the team may be coming to a close, Bryce will remain a Tiger for life and his impact on the program will be felt for years.