Although summer is the offseason for high school baseball, the Riverside-Brookfield High School baseball team certainly put in some valuable work during summer league play. For head coach Dallas Till and his assistants Mark Ruge and his son, Joe, the summer slate of games serves as an opportunity to evaluate players.
“We always play a very challenging summer league schedule including games against OPRF, Fenwick and Nazareth among several other solid clubs,” Mark Ruge said. “Coach Till, Joe and myself have a fine line to cross in terms of evaluating talent while remaining competitive. It’s a real challenge. We often ask our players to step out of their comfort zone while attempting to maintain a high level of play as a team.”
Pitcher Connor Berek, who had a breakout season (7-2, 2.51 ERA) with the Bulldogs last spring, threw a lot of innings this summer.
“Connor Berek continues to be our staff ace,” Ruge said. “We limited his innings a bit, but he took the ball against all the top teams. Connor is a very hard worker and he’s working on a changeup to add to his arsenal. We need the fastball- to-changeup ratio to be better as he continues his development.”
Fellow hurlers Kenny Ngo, Enrique Trujillo, Nick Fucinato and Richie Gentile collaborated to work the majority of the remaining innings for the Bulldogs.
“Kenny Ngo has been a solid performer on the bump,” Ruge said. “He throws strikes and has great mound presence. Kenny also plays a ton of travel ball and it really shows. We’re excited about him.”
Top hitters for the Bulldogs included Fucinato (.381), Jake Surprenant (.355), Ngo (.350) and Gentile (.344). Brian Kulaga and Adolfo Linares, who also spent the summer working out with the RBHS football team, also contributed to the baseball team’s success.
Perhaps, the pleasant surprise of the summer was sophomore Kyle Fitzgerald. He emerged as a promising player thanks to his stellar glove work all over the field and an improving bat.
“Kyle looks so at ease approaching a ground ball, very professional,” Ruge said. “As the summer progressed, he started to barrel up the baseball consistently. The sky is the limit for this Kyle.”