Suffolk senior Jake Cintolo has been playing baseball since before kindergarten. What keeps him coming back to the batter’s box? The challenge.

“It’s a game that when you fail seven out of 10 times, you’re considered successful,” he says of the game’s appeal. “It’s one game that you can never be perfect at. You can always be a little bit better.”

The infielder took on a big challenge this summer when he played on the Winchester (Va.) Royals of the Valley Baseball League, an NCAA-affiliated league where college athletes play during the summer. 

After a successful stint in the New York Collegiate Baseball League last summer and another stellar year for the Rams, the Royals seized on the chance to sign Cintolo for Valley League play way back in October. 

Most of his teammates and opponents came from big Division 1 baseball schools like the University of Miami, William & Mary, University of South Carolina, and George Mason. But Cintolo more than held his own, finishing the season with a .288 batting average (third on the team) and an all-star team selection. 

“I wanted to make a name for myself, Suffolk, and D3 baseball players,” says Cintolo. “[Opponents] were always surprised I’m from some little D3 school in Boston. I definitely felt that other coaches, in the way they pitched me at the plate, showed they had respect for me as a baseball player.”

Cintolo, a native of Wrentham, Mass., also got a heaping dose of Southern hospitality during his summer in Virginia. He stayed with a host family that has welcomed Royals players for more than a decade. And it was not uncommon for him to hear someone he didn’t know ask, “Hey, Jake, how’s it going?”—just because people knew he was on the team. 

“That’s one thing with being on the Winchester Royals—everyone knew who you were,” says Cintolo. “It made you feel real welcome that they were behind you 100 percent. They took baseball very seriously.”

Back on campus this year, Cintolo’s top goal is to help lead the Rams to the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) championship. In the process, he’s hoping to make a couple more entries in the record books, including Suffolk’s all-time and single-season hits records and the GNAC all-time hits record. No big deal, right?

What’s next for this marketing major after graduation? Perhaps unsurprisingly, Cintolo has diamonds in his eyes. 

“I’m hoping to play at the next level,” he says. “I’m going to do everything I can to make it, but if that’s not one of my opportunities, I’d love to coach at the college level. I think I’d really enjoy it.”