University of Tampa standout becomes college baseball’s new hit king

Standing at the threshold of college baseball immortality Saturday afternoon, E.J. Cumbo crossed it with style.

Not via a bloop or base hit, but a blast.

The University of Tampa senior’s eighth-inning, two-run home run in a 9-3 romp of Saint Leo was the 367th of his career, making him Division II baseball’s career hits leader. A 5-foot-8 New York native wrapping up his seventh collegiate season, Cumbo broke the 17-year-old record held by Erskine’s Shelton Cisson.

He added three more hits in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader — a 7-5 UT triumph — to give him 370.

Cumbo, 24, began his career at New York Tech in 2018, but appeared in only six games his first season before redshirting due to an injury. He collected 99 hits over three years for the school, including 21 in the COVID-shortened 2020 season that didn’t count against his eligibility. He transferred to Tampa in time for the 2021 season and has hit .340 or better each of the last three years.

His entrance into history Saturday means a pair of Division II’s most significant career hitting records belong to players with bay area ties. The single-season hits record (120) was set by Northeast High alumnus James Vida for Florida Southern in 1994.

The top-ranked Spartans (42-5), seeking the program’s ninth national title, end the regular season Thursday-Friday at Lynn University.

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