Romick helps Denison’s run to D3 regional

Ryne Romick is similar to most college coaches that he has significant goals and aspirations.

The former River and University of Akron standout also realizes that his happiness must play a role, too.

After four years coaching at the Division I level, Romick accepted an opportunity to return for his second tour of at Denison University as the Big Red pitching coach, working under head coach Mike Deegan.

“Personally, I am in the best place (professionally and personally) that I’ve been in a long time,” Romick said. “Leaving (Denison) was the right move for me and returning was the right move, too.”

After three seasons at Dayton, Romick landed a job at Ohio University, where he admitted he was “happy.” But, Romick got married last August and his wife, Leah, works in Columbus. So, when Deegan reached out about returning to Denison, which is located in Granville, Romick didn’t have to think about it long.

“It worked out perfectly when Coach Deegan reached out,” Romick said. “It gave me the opportunity to do what I wanted to do with someone I respected. My wife was fully on board and that definitely helped to make the decision really easy.”

On the professional side, it’s been a perfect match as Denison is experiencing one of the best seasons in its program’s history.

Romick and the Big Red are taking part in today’s NCAA Division III regional at Adrian College in Michigan as the region’s top seed and find itself on the doorstep of a super regional bid.

It’s been quite the season for Big Red, which won the North Coast Athletic Conference title in dramatic fashion last weekend in Chillicothe.

Denison had its back to the wall after suffering a loss to fellow NCAA Tourney entrant Wooster in the winner’s bracket semifinal. That was Dennison’s third loss of the season to the Scots.

“Wooster is good and we honestly got our butts kicked,” Romick admitted. “It was a tough spot since at that point we were now 0-3 against them.”

Dennison bounced back to eliminate Allegheny, 7-0, setting up a rematch with Wooster. Taylor Perrett threw a complete-game, which Romick called “a start we needed in the biggest spot.”

“Obviously, we had to win, but in order to play five games in basically two-and-a-half days, we needed someone to go a ways and eat some innings to give us a shot,” Romick said.

Dennison seemed to seize the momentum from Perrett’s start and finally found a way to slay the Wooster demons that had been hauning it.

“That game against Wooster was the best game we played all year,” Romick said of the 5-3 victory to force the winner-take-all-game.

With a patchwork pitching staff, Denison utilized three pitchers, including a starter who was working on basically one-day rest. He worked almost five full innings before giving way to the pen, which closed out the 7-5 victory and gave Big Red their first conference title and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

“It was definitely different knowing that we were in the tournament,” Romick said.

Denison earned an at-large bid to the 2018 tournament. The only drama surrounding Monday’s announcement of the national field was where Denison would be heading. Though it garnered the top seed in the regional, it was forced to play in Adrian because of commencement exercises on campus this weekend.

“We should have hosted, but we couldn’t put in a bid to host because of graduation and rules our school has about no athletic events can be held on campus when graduation is going on,” Romick explained. “We did put in a bid to host the super regional.”

The league title and NCAA berth were just additional chapters to one of the most successful seasons in the history of Denison baseball. Big Red’s record was enhanced by an impressive 17-game winning streak. Denison fell to Johns Hopkins on March 20 in Florida, but didn’t lose again until April 20 at Ohio Wesleyan.

“There have been many times where I couldn’t believe we won this many games because we’re still a fairly young group,” Romick said. “We have one senior in our every-day lineup and a few senior pitchers contributing. Our young guys have been playing well.”

Romick pointed at that Johns Hopkins loss as when Denison realized it had a chance to be special.

“We hadn’t played a top 10 program prior to that and we didn’t know good we were,” Romick said. “That game, even though we loss, gave a lot of our younger — and older — guys some confidence that we could play with anyone.”

While the month-long winning streak was nice and impressive, for Romick and Deegan, the focus was to have their guys playing their best baseball in May.

“I think we did (play our best baseball) in the conference tournament, so now we have to keep that going,” Romick said. “This is a really, really good regional with a lot of programs that have storied traditions.”

NCAA BASEBALL NOTE

∫ WOOSTER was chosen as regional host and one of the teams in its bracket is Otterbein, which won the Ohio Athletic Conference title. Cody Goletz (St. Clairsville), Dmitri Collaros (Steubenville), Nick Scott (Steubenville) and Gino Pierro (Steubenville) are contributors for the Cardinals.

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