BERWYN – The winning may not be important, but the competition is.
Riverside Brookfield is playing a number of top programs and bigger schools in summer baseball. The focus of summer isn’t about the results, but playing in a six-team league with Fenwick, Leyden, Nazareth, Oak Park-River Forest and St. Joseph has tested the Bulldogs.
“One thing is we don’t focus on winning and losing at all,” said Mark Ruge, who is the varsity assistant coach and is leading the summer team. “I literally play one inning at a time. If we’re down 6-0, everything is clean and we start fresh the next inning.
“When you’re playing the Oak Parks, you’re playing Leyden, you’ve got to bring it.”
Ruge emphasized internal competition as much as anything. After the Bulldogs, which don’t have a home field in the summer so all games are on the road, graduated a majority of the starting lineup from the spring, a lot of positions are up for grabs.
Junior to-be Kevin Fitzgerald is expected to retain his starting shortstop position, but after that, many of the field spots are in an open battle during the summer. Ruge mentioned second baseman Jim Doherty, third baseman Matt Gara and versatile Nick Fucinato as some of the standouts.
“What we’re trying to do is get opportunities to pit kids against each other,” Ruge said. “This is a good time for us to evaluate.”
Fitzgerald, who has also played with RB’s summer basketball team, has traveled to Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Northern Illinois University and Tennessee for tournaments with his travel team, Team DeMarini.
“We’re always traveling so I’ve had to miss quite a few (high school) games because I’ve been out of town, but I’m here as much as I can,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s been fun. We get to stay in rooms with our buddies. It’s a little more competitive.”
As for pitching, RB is looking to find a No. 2 behind ace Will Kincanon, who is spending his summer with elite travel team Top Tier. Nico Ranieri, Jack Hayes and Sam Smith are some of the names that have impressed Ruge.
“Obviously we have Will and our job is to find a two guy,” Ruge said. “Right now we have a heated battle. We’ve got a couple kids looking at it.”