As the injuries worked their way up Jake Portaro’s body — first his foot, then his hand and eventually his right, throwing arm — the senior for Centennial’s baseball team wondered if he would miss out on a college scholarship.
“It was a concern,” Portaro said, “because nobody had seen me yet.”
Portaro missed large portions of the past two seasons and rarely had the opportunity to show why he is regarded as one of the top hitters in the Division I Sunset Region. But the 6-foot-1-inch infielder has stayed healthy as a senior, and last week signed a letter of intent with Utah.
“It was hard, because the injuries set me back, but every time I came back stronger and stronger,” Portaro said. “All this time I wanted to make it to the next level, and this is just the next step in the process of making it there.”
Portaro missed nearly all of his sophomore season with a broken foot, then suffered a broken right pinky finger early in his junior season. He returned in time to hit two home runs in a win over Bishop Gorman in the region tournament and helped the Bulldogs reach the Division I state title game.
Portaro injured his pitching arm last summer, and he said recruiting interest cooled. But his play at second base with the Las Vegas Baseball Academy Cardinals scout team in the fall earned him an offer from Utah.
Portaro had the winning hit in Monday’s 1-0 win over No. 2 Cimarron-Memorial and is batting .439 with a team-best five home runs and 36 RBIs. He said he chose Utah over Seattle University.
“Jake is a very athletic middle infielder,” Utes coach Bill Kinneberg said in a statement. “We are expecting him to eventually be a middle-of-the-lineup type hitter for us. We are very excited to be adding a player of his caliber.”
■ RECENT COMMITMENTS — Valley senior Shea Garland to Casper College (Wyo.) for men’s basketball. … Liberty senior Aubre Fortner to Pima Community College (Ariz.) for women’s basketball. … Arbor View senior Isabella Sakai to Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) for women’s cross country and track. … Arbor View senior Van Thomas to Odessa College (Texas) for men’s golf. … Desert Oasis senior Luis Cisneros to Northwest College (Wyo.) for men’s soccer. … Shadow Ridge senior Crystal Adame to Lane College (Ore.) for women’s soccer. … Centennial senior Kara Simpson to College of Southern Nevada for softball. … Sierra Vista senior Morgan O’Neal to Tennessee Tech for women’s track and field. … Green Valley senior Sean Cannon to Northern Colorado for wrestling.
Contact reporter David Schoen at email@example.com or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ.