College Baseball: South Suburban’s Steve Ruzich records 1,000th career coaching win
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media April 28, 2014 9:58PM
CCAC Baseball Standings
Top six teams qualify for conference tournament. (Games listed scheduled as doubleheaders for Tuesday):
1. Judson (20-5): vs. Calumet College
1. St. Francis (20-5): vs. Cardinal Stritch
3. Trinity Christian (15-10): vs. Trinity Int’l
4. St. Xavier (14-11): vs. Purdue N-C
4. Holy Cross (14-11): vs. Robert Morris
6. Robert Morris (13-12): vs. Holy Cross
7. Purdue N. Central (12-13): vs. St. Xavier
7. Olivet Nazarene (12-13): vs. Roosevelt
Updated: May 30, 2014 6:21AM
The milestone win was special enough for longtime South Suburban baseball coach Steve Ruzich.
But it was more than the milestone. It was how the Bulldogs pulled off the win, an 8-6 victory over visiting Morton.
In giving Ruzich his 1,000th career coaching win, South Suburban came back from a 6-0 deficit, scoring three runs in the seventh inning and five in the eighth.
“I knew (1,000 wins) was coming along,” Ruzich said with a laugh. “The win meant something because it reflected the personality of this team. This is one resilient bunch.”
Ruzich began coaching at South Suburban in 1987 after a brief pro career in the White Sox system. He also is the school’s athletic director.
In piling up all those wins over his career, Ruzich is most proud of his team’s schedule year in and year out. That many wins is no gimmick.
“(A 1,000 wins) is a reflection on the program to be doing this so many years,” Ruzich said. “To do it over so many years ... we don’t try to dodge anyone on our schedule. If you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. Does it mean something different? No, not really, but it’s a nice victory, and we don’t want to stop there.”
Ruzich will be inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Association Coaches Hall of Fame on May 23.
The 1,000th win came as part of quite a busy week for South Suburban as the Bulldogs played eight games in six days. Ruzich’s squad has nine games remaining on the schedule before the Region IV tournament begins May 8 at Kishwaukee College in Malta.
St. Rita’s Stefano Belmonte (.420 average, 40 RBI, 34 runs), Stephen Letz (.401, 7 home runs, 43 RBI, 45 runs) and Shepard’s Matt Hoge (.348, 43 runs, 28 stolen bases) have led South Suburban offensively.
Ryan Waaso (Marian Catholic) heads the pitching staff with five wins, but seven pitchers on the roster have at least two wins.
CCAC tourney field
Win and qualify.
Both St. Xavier and Trinity Christian found themselves in a crowded race over weekend to qualify for the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament, and neither team disappointed.
After dropping the series opener to Olivet Nazarene, Trinity Christian (23-18, 15-10) swept the Tigers on Saturday, clinching a spot in the CCAC Tournament regardless of the Trolls’ doubleheader Tuesday at Trinity International.
St. Xavier similarly won two of three over the weekend over Robert Morris, improving to 20-26, 14-11. With a doubleheader split Tuesday against Purdue North Central, the Cougars should clinch a tournament berth.
Judson and St. Francis are tied atop the conference with 20-5 records heading into Tuesday’s games.