Mike Giese stepped into a good situation when he came to Richmond-Burton as baseball coach in the 2006 season.
The Rockets had won Class A regional titles in two of the previous three seasons under former coach Brett McPherson and advanced to the Class A Elite Eight on a team led by Nate Roberts, one of the best players in school history.
Under Giese’s guidance, RB has maintained a high level of consistency, with five more regional championships and only three losing seasons in his 16-plus years as coach.
Giese reached a coaching milestone with the Rockets’ 9-2 win over Stillman Valley on Saturday. It was the 300th victory of Giese’s career. RB is off to another terrific start at 12-3, coming off of a 25-6 season where it won a Class 2A regional.
“I always tell the kids that milestones are important,” Giese said. “It gives you time to reflect back and when I do that, the thing that’s pretty cool is the way we got here. When we play nonconference games we’re one of the smallest schools in the area, so we’re usually playing schools that are bigger than us.
“We played a lot of big schools over the years, our kids, not just this group, will play anybody, anytime, anywhere and they won’t complain about it. They just go on the field and compete. I’m proud of our schedule and the teams we’ve played to get there.”
Giese said the Rockets have wins against every Fox Valley Conference team, at some point in his tenure, except Cary-Grove, Dundee-Crown and Prairie Ridge.
Giese did not coach high school before he came to RB, where he teaches math, in the summer of 2005. In his native South Dakota, he worked with the local Little League programs and coached American Legion baseball.
RB was 26-9 in Giese’s first season, and was 24-9 in 2011 and set the school record at 27-10 in 2012, a team that lost in a Class 3A supersectional. Giese was averaging 19.2 wins a season coming into this year (288 wins over 15 seasons, tossing out the 2020 season wiped out by COVID-19).
“The one thing I’ve tried to do over the years is to love the sport,” Giese said. “I preach to the kids, to validate it. Baseball is a small segment of their life. When you look back you have regrets or whatever.
“I’ve always tried to give the message ‘Give me 100 days and give yourself 100 days.’ If you can go all in and just show up every day and try to get better and simplify the game, you can always give yourself a chance to win. If you do those things, you’ll always look back and be grateful of the effort you’ve given. One thing I’ve always been proud about with my teams is they’ve always left it on the field. That makes me happy.”
Another milestone: Jacobs coach Jamie Murray got win No. 200 for his career on April 5 when the Golden Eagles defeated Elk Grove, 7-2.
Murray is in his 11th season and has had only one losing season. His teams won Class 4A regionals in every season from 2013-16 and his 2015 team tied for third in the Class 4A State Tournament and set the school record at 29-11.
The area leaders among coaching wins are Prairie Ridge’s Glen Pecoraro (481-261) and Huntley’s Andy Jakubowski (466-311-1).
Swinging it: McHenry has been on fire recently at the plate. Since two losses against Huntley, the Warriors have scored at least 10 runs and won five consecutive games.
Junior Cooper Cohn hit his first home run of the season in Friday’s 10-1 win against Jacobs, then proceeded to hit homers in each of the Warriors’ wins Saturday against Sycamore.
Rockets rip it up: RB had a prolific scoring team last season, one that averaged 10.6 runs a game. The Rockets are not far off that pace at 9.0 runs per game this season.
RB has scored at least six runs in its last 11 games and has won eight consecutive games.
Packed schedules: The early-season wet weather has become a problem with teams getting to play games. It will be a problem in upcoming weeks with teams trying to cram conference games in to what is left of their schedules.
Jacobs, for instance, was set to play nine FVC games in 11 days before Monday’s snow-out.
“We play five straight conference games, we’re off Saturday and Sunday, then we have four straight conference games,” Murray said. “Get all those rainouts and you have to check your depth. We’ll be fine.”
In the hunt: Woodstock finished its first two Kishwaukee River Conference series, against Harvard and Johnsburg, at 5-1. The Blue Streaks are 7-3 overall.
Woodstock’s only KRC loss came against Johnsburg ace Ian Boal, so the Streaks have given themselves a chance in the league race. They have Woodstock North this week, then KRC-leading RB next week and they finish against Marengo.
“We feel pretty good about it,” Woodtock pitcher-first baseman Gavin Loiselle said. “We feel like we have the talent to make a pretty good run for conference. We have a tough road ahead of us with Richmond-Burton and a Marengo squad that’s pretty good. If we can pick up wins against them, we’ll do all right.”
Under suspension: Woodstock North and Harvard had two of their KRC games suspended last week because of darkness. North also had a game with RB, tied at 3-3 in the top of the second inning, that was suspended by rain.
North coach John Oslovich said the Thunder and Harvard are looking for a date to get together and finish both games. They were tied 5-5 in the first game and 21-21 in the second.