Although the Riverside-Brookfield High School baseball team ended last season with a disappointing 8-5 loss to Reavis in the Class 4A playoffs, the Bulldogs (20-11) recorded another winning campaign under head coach Dallas Till.
Despite losing 10 seniors, RBHS returns an intriguing mix of a few established veterans and several newcomers next season. In recently completed summer league play, the Bulldogs finished 12-4 with a new-look lineup.
“I think the purpose of summer baseball is to allow the team to grow closer and gain chemistry,” RBHS senior first baseman Jack Domeier said. “In terms of each player’s development, summer baseball allows us to get more reps both at the plate and in the field.”
While player evaluation is the primary purpose of summer baseball, the team showed signs of maturation.
“Dallas and I put zero credence in the team’s summer record, but we’re pleased with 12-4,” said assistant coach Mark Ruge, who coaches the varsity in the summer. “We have a number of young quick athletic players that will be competing for open spots. We are starting to see the harvest of the fine freshmen crop from last year.
“The coaching staff is very excited about this mix of players. Next season’s squad looks to be one of the youngest, most athletic, quick and fundamentally sound teams we will have the pleasure to coach.”
Returning starters Kyle Fitzgerald (junior shortstop), Richie Gentile (senior outfielder/second baseman) and Domeier turned in solid summer performances. Kenny Ngo, another returning, veteran lengthens the lineup as well.
Fitzgerald, in particular, has the five-tool package to be a star. Last season, he batted .374 with 2 home runs, 18 RBIs, 16 stolen bases, .496 on-base percentage and .538 slugging percentage.
“My role next year is to be a leader on the team,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m willing to do anything to win and compete every pitch. I am excited for the upcoming season because we have a new younger group that can be mentored by Coach Till, Coach Ruge, and the few returning starters.”
On the mound, senior Enrique Trujillo turned in a superb summer season.
“Enrique established himself as one of our top pitching prospects going into next season,” Ruge said. “He has worked hard on an off-speed pitch and throws very free and easy.”
Junior middle infielder/pitcher Asher Runyan-Randruut is also expected to make an immediate impact.
“We have been receiving promising reports on Asher Runyan-Randruut from our lower level coaches and he didn’t disappoint,” Ruge said. “He will really help shore up our defense in the infield.