When Anthony D’Onofrio first committed to the Hofstra baseball team as a sophomore at Wantagh High School, he saw potential for big strides for a local program he grew up following.
Six years later, D’Onofrio was a catalyst in Hofstra reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history after capturing the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) title with four straight wins in the double-elimination tournament Memorial Day weekend. The accomplishment was made even more improbable by the fact Hofstra was picked in the preseason to finish dead last in the nine team CAA.
“To be ranked last in the preseason and finish in third place in the regular and go 4-0 in the playoffs and shock the whole conference really felt great,” said D’Onofrio, who hit three home runs this season as a senior center fielder including a leadoff homer in Hofstra’s 7-6 win against Northeastern on May 29 that clinched the CAA championship. “It was a crazy experience.”
D’Onofrio, who will return in 2023 as a graduate student for an extra year of eligibility due to losing most of the 2020 season because of the Covid-19 pandemic, ignited Hofstra’s CAA tourney run with an infield single leading off the bottom of the ninth-inning before scoring the winning run on a sacrifice fly by Steve Harrington in a 4-3 win against Elon. The Pride kept the momentum the next day with a 4-3 victory in 10 innings versus second-seeded Elon and on May 27 and then knocked off Northeastern 8-7 in extra innings the next day on a Santino Rosso RBI double in the bottom of the 10th to advance to the CAA finals stage.
Hofstra made history in achieving the school’s first conference baseball crown with its third walk-off win of the CAA tourney when Ryan Morash was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score Brian Morrell and cap a 7-6 victory and set off a massive celebration.