West Ranch pitcher collecting baseball gear for Dominican Republic players

West Ranch baseball's Vincent Rojas with baseball equipment he has collected to send to the Dominican Republic to donate to baseball players there. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

On a summer day in the Dominican Republic, West Ranch baseball’s Vinny Rojas was explaining how to throw a curve ball to a 6-foot-4, 14-year-old Dominican boy.

“I struck him out with a curve ball, and he was like, ‘How did you throw that?’ And I showed him everything,” Rojas said. “He was like, ‘Oh, I’m going to practice that every day.’”

Rojas donated used baseball equipment to a youth baseball team in the Dominican Republic on a family trip last year. In return, he received some lessons from the players there that made him want to continue his donation efforts this year.

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Speaking in half English, half Spanish, Rojas asked his towering friend how he got to be so skilled and physically fit.

“He was saying in Spanish, ‘The heat out here is crazy,’” Rojas said. “’You’ve just got to sweat through it, bleed through it and eventually you’ll get there.’ … I was like, ‘Wow, that’s awesome.’”

Last year’s donation was done fairly informally, with Rojas’ mother, Juanita, getting in touch with a Dominican baseball team. A handful of the 12 friends and family members on the vacation had to check an extra bag filled with baseball gear to get everything there.

Vinny Rojas of West Ranch baseball kneels in front of a group of baseball players in the Dominican Republic last summer. Rojas is donating gear to Dominican players again this summer. Courtesy photo

The equipment was donated mostly by West Ranch baseball players and families.

This year, Rojas will be working with “Baseball Without Borders,” a foundation that sends baseball equipment overseas to players of all ages. He’s already collected enough gear to cover the surface of the pool table in his garage.

Working as a team, Rojas came up with the idea of donating equipment, while Juanita handled the logistics. She got in touch with a baseball team (a feat her ability to speak fluent Spanish helped with) and this year, set up their partnership with Baseball Without Borders.

And of course, she assumed the role of supporting her son.

“We’re blessed to give him whatever he needs to play, to go out there and play baseball,” Juanita said. “So I think just going out there and seeing the fields that they had and even if they had a field (was good). … He realized, you’ve always provided for me when it came to my sports and then these kids didn’t have that opportunity.”

Rojas is still accepting donations for Baseball Without Borders and will continue to do so until Monday. Those interested in donating should send an email to [email protected].

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