By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Division III Rowan Profs were determined to get head coach Juan Ranero his milestone win on Wednesday night at home in Glassboro.
Despite falling into a 6-0 hole after three innings and trailing 7-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth against a very good Neumann University team, the Profs found a way. They put together a stirring, four run rally – capped by junior first baseman’s Sean Kelly’s two-out, RBI double – to capture an 8-7 victory. The win was #400 for Ranero.
“We were able to get the first two guys on (in the 9th inning) and then things just worked out,” Ranero says. “That’s baseball. When good things are happening, momentum keeps going and keeps rolling.”
Ranero now is 400-271-5 in 16 seasons as a head coach. 291 of those victories have come in two separate stints at Rowan. He also notched 109 wins at Division II Barry University in Florida.
The victory over Neumann improved the Profs to 14-4 this season and they are ranked as high as 11th in Division III. Now success in Glassboro is obviously nothing new to Ranero, but he says this team’s progress has come a little quicker than he anticipated.
“To be honest with you, coming into the year I thought this was going to be one of our rebuilding years. We had 21 new guys on the roster this year, so it’s a lot of new faces, so I did not expect to be where I’m at right now with this group. I think the weather, being able to get outside early in the year helped us a ton, because it really got us prepared. Had (it) been a typical winter and we’re inside with 21 new guys, we’re not where we are right now.”
Ranero says while expectations were not sky high at the outset for this group, it did not take long for them to show him what they were capable of.
“The first weekend, when we went to Randolph-Macon, they are a good ballclub, they were getting votes to be in the poll, so I know they are a good team. We always go down there and we feel fortunate if we take two out of three from them when we go down there. And we were able to sweep them and their coach told us – Christopher Newport they had just played during the week, and they were ranked second in the country, and he told me he thought we were better than they were. That started (me) to think we might be a pretty good team.”
Back to the 400 win milestone . . so what does that number mean to the coach?
Listen to KYW’s Matt Leon’s interview with Juan Ranero:
“It means I’ve been around the game a long time and I’ve had some very good players and some guys, like this bunch, that just didn’t quit, believed in what we were trying to do and were able to pull out wins. I always tell them, ‘My job is to put them in position to win – their job is to go find a way to win.’ And that’s what we do. I’ve been fortunate to have played for and coached with some of the best coaches in the country and I think that’s a big key and a credit to them. I think I’m a product of everything that they taught me and what they’ve shown me in baseball.”
Rowan will try to grab win #401 for Ranero on Saturday when they play the first game of a double-header against William Patterson.