LANSING, Ill. (May 3, 2023) – Players come and go, but one thing hasn’t changed about South Suburban baseball since the 1980s: Coach Steve Ruzich keeps piling up the wins.
Now in his 38th season, Ruzich picked up his 1,300th victory when the Bulldogs beat Elgin 10-2 on April 26. Through Tuesday, SSC was 34-17 this season and 1,304-766 overall under Ruzich.
“I think for where we’re located and what we deal with [weather-wise], what it means is we’ve done things the right way,” he said. “It’s not about me, it’s not about 1,300. It’s about all these kids that have played for us.”
One thing Ruzich appreciates is how the players stay connected to the Bulldogs program after they move on.
“We always have our annual golf outing in September,” he said. “It’s always sold out because of our alumni coming back.”
Ruzich has been around long enough that he’s coached at least two players whose fathers played for him.
And he’s built his winning record not by dodging tough competition.
“We were ranked 18th overall as the toughest schedule in junior college baseball,” Ruzich said.
When coaches get to this stage of their careers, the question comes up about how much longer they want to go. Ruzich isn’t looking to step down any time soon.
“I enjoy doing it,” he said. “The sport’s always been there. I love it. … I always enjoy the competition level. … I really do enjoy [seeing] — how much can you change an individual [for the better]?”
The Red Wolves (14-10, 8-5 South Suburban Blue) pushed their winning streak to four games by completing a season sweep of District 215 rival TF North on Tuesday, rolling to a 19-2 victory.
Moises Mata struck out seven and allowed two runs on three hits over four innings for the victory. He also was 2-for-4 with four RBI while Tyler Earmsmuth went 3-for-3 with four runs and four steals.
TF South edged Oak Lawn 5-4 on Friday. Mata was 3-for-4 with two RBI, while Calvin Stuckey went 2-for-2 with a walk, two runs and three steals. Rodrigo Arceo pitched three-hit ball over five innings for the win, allowing one earned run and striking out five.
The Red Wolves knocked off Shepard 11-6 on Thursday as Jayden Spann allowed three earned runs and two walks over six innings with six strikeouts.
Rakim Ali was 2-for-3 with three runs and four steals, while Jake Stachelski finished 1-for-1 with a sacrifice, a run, three RBI and two steals.
TF United (TF South/TF North coop)
United won its fourth in a row on Tuesday, shutting out Evergreen Park 3-0. Berenice Zepeda had two goals and an assist for United (10-4, 8-1 SSC Blue), while goalkeeper Angie Mendez had four saves to earn the shutout. Alanis Gonzalez scored a goal and Karen Zepeda added an assist.
United swept Tinley Park on Thursday, winning 25-22, 25-8.
Kevin Corcoran Jr. pitched a one-hitter and struck out 15 as Illiana won a key Greater South Shore game on Tuesday, 3-0 over Hanover Central.
Corcoran also was 2-for-3 for the Vikings (13-5, 8-0 GSSC). Hanover is 12-3-1, 6-1-1.
The Vikings split a doubleheader with Portage on Saturday, losing 8-7 and winning 10-0. Jonathan Sitter pitched a six-inning two-hitter in the nightcap, striking out three. Corcoran and Josh Vis each had two hits for Illiana.
Cody DeJong had two hits in the opener for the Vikings, who were walked off in the bottom of the seventh when Portage scored four times.
Illiana edged Highland 8-7 on Friday. Corcoran was 3-for-5 to lead a 13-hit attack and Vis pitched two innings of shutout relief for the win, striking out three and walking none.
Mikayla Derks threw a one-hitter with nine strikeouts and had the Vikings’ only hit in a crucial 1-0 Greater South Shore victory against Hanover Central on Tuesday.
Illiana moved to 11-2 overall and 8-0 in the conference with its fifth straight win. Hanover is 12-1, 6-1.
Derks also threw a three-hitter with nine strikeouts and was 2-for-3 with a homer in a 3-0 shutout of Munster on Thursday. Lauren Sherwood was 2-for-3 and Maddie Ritzema also homered.
Illiana beat Morton 160-267 on Monday at Lost Marsh. Isaac Sherwood and Zach Davids each shot 38 to share medalist honors. Donny Woo was next at 41, followed by Van Corcoran and Will Bloom at 43.
The Vikings defeated Crown Point 172-181 on Thursday at Sandy Pines. Scoring for Illiana were Corcoran (42), Woo (43), Davids (43) and Bloom (44).
Illiana (19-5) swept Hobart in three sets on Monday, winning 25-8, 25-15, 25-14.
The Vikings also swept Lake Central on April 26, winning 25-15, 25-19, 25-20.
Illiana swept Andrean 5-0 on Friday, winning every match in straight sets. Gianna Vukas (No. 1), Sabri Lopez (No. 2) and Avery Olthof (No. 3) won in singles, while the teams of Maddy Smith and Josie Plank (No. 1) and Ava Lindemulder and Sophie Plank (No. 2) picked up doubles victories.
The Vikings also shut out Marquette 5-0 on Thursday, losing only one game. Vukas, Lopez and Josie Plank won at first, second singles and third singles respectively. Picking up doubles wins were Smith and Olthof at No. 1 and Lindemuder and Sophie Plank at No. 2.
The Vikings dropped just two games in beating Calumet 5-0 on April 26. Vukas, Lopez and Abby West won at No. 1 through No. 3 singles. Smith and Olthof won at No. 1 doubles, while Kaitlin Dykstra and Kate DeVries won at No. 2.
Marian beat St. Viator 25-16, 25-17 in East Suburban Catholic action on Thursday. Justin McGary had 16 assists for the Spartans (18-4, 1-2 ESCC), Phoenix Magruder added eight kills and seven digs, and Seb Jaculbe also contributed seven digs.
Marian was shut out 4-0 by defending Class 3A state champ Nazareth in East Suburban Catholic action on Tuesday.
Freshman Matthew Gonzalez was 2-for-2 with a sacrifice for the Spartans (10-11, 3-5 ESCC). Lefty Michael Bailey started and allowed one earned run, three hits and four walks over five innings. He struck out four.
Marian cruised past Nazareth 16-4 in East Suburban Catholic play on April 26.
Sarah McManus (5-1) struck out seven and allowed no earned runs over 4 2/3 innings for the win. Leading the offense were Jasmine Venson (3-for-3, triple, 2 runs, 2 RBI), Katie Pollock (2-for4, 2 RBI) and Mariah Serrano (2-for-2, 2 RBI),
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