Till and Ruge on deck for 2011 season

Anthony Scianna, Content Editor

With February over and March in full swing, baseball season has officially arrived. It should be an interesting season for the Varsity bulldogs, with the biggest story being the departure of former head coach Mike Ziroli. Ziroli had been head coach for the last three years before leaving for rival school LT this year. With his departure came the promotion of Dallas Till from assistant coach to head coach. Till, a former head coach at Elmwood Park, is only in his second year at RB and teaches Wellness along with coaching football.

Although the promotion came quickly, Till is excited to take over as head coach and isn’t worried the change will affect the team’s play.

“It was quite an honor to be named head coach; I never thought it’d happen so quickly. I enjoyed being assistant, but I’m looking forward to being head coach this year. Former head coach Ziroli and I are very similar in philosophy and belief: to play hard and to play the game the right way. And if we do that hopefully some wins will come from it,” Till said.

With Till moving from assistant to head coach, someone needed to step in to take over his spot. That role was taken by security guard Mark Ruge, who had been helping out with the team since his son Joe played for the school. Ruge is excited to start the season, and has no worries about working with a new head coach.

“We (Coach Till) share the same philosophies about the game. I also helped run the summer and fall teams with him,” Ruge said.

Besides the new coaching staff, the team will also have to bounce back from losing key seniors from last year. Although that’s always an issue, it’s a little bit more of a big deal this year as they lost two of their top starters and some key offensive players.

“We lost some key guys from last year. The pitching staff is going to have to step up to recover from losing two of our top pitchers in Alex Brown and Matt Kenahan.” Till said.

Ruge echoed Till’s thoughts, but is confident they’ll bounce back.

“We did lose a couple of top guys, but our guys have been working hard to replace them. We’re going to focus on mixing it up, changing speeds, and working the ball down on the mound,” Ruge said.

Chris James is the ace of the staff and we’ve also got JT Evans who transferred back to RB this year. We’re hoping for big years out of them and David Tortorici as our lefty specialist.” Till commented.

Besides for pitching, Ruge feels the offense needs better execution this year.

“Our infield is returning from last year and we have speed in the outfield so I’m confident in our defense. Offensively we need better execution. Our small game also has to improve along with being more aggressive on the base paths,” Ruge said.

The team will look to continue off of last year’s success in conference and regionals.

“We have some pretty big shoes to fill after making it to sectionals last year. We’re up for the challenge and I’m confident we’ll win conference. Hopefully we make it through regionals and get to sectionals. Our goal going into the season is to win at sectionals,” Till said.

The key to accomplishing that goal, according to Ruge, is to get off to a good start.

“We have a favorable schedule early on so we need to get off to a strong start. The season goes by quickly so hopefully weather doesn’t postpone any of our early games and we can have a great year.” Ruge said.

Tryouts took place on February 28th and the team was official by the next week. Cuts had to be made early to prepare the team for the season as they don’t have much time before games start. Their season kicks off on March 18th if weather permits at Elmwood Park. It will be a bit of a homecoming for Coach Till, returning to the school he coached at for many years before coming to RB last year.  After Elmwood Park they have games against local rivals St Joes and Nazareth on March 23rd and 28th respectively.

Till is anxious and excited for the weather to clear up so the season can begin.

“We’re getting sick of being inside because of bad weather. We want to get out and play on grass and get ready for our first game. I’m really excited for the season,” he said.