Article, 2011 Season - Ohlone College Renegades Men's Baseball

Small college notebook: A year after winning state title, Ohlone baseball team still finding its footing in new season

By Matt Schwab, Oakland Tribune.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011-Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.

New Ohlone College baseball coach Julian Russell is confronting an interesting challenge.

Last season under former coach Jordon Twohig, Ohlone won 37 games and the college's first state championship in any sport. Twohig, the 2010 ABCA Diamond/National Coach of the Year, landed a job as an assistant coach at Washington over the summer.

Talk about a tough act to follow.

In his three years at Ohlone, Twohig had a 94-43 record and sent 41 players to four-year colleges.

A former three-sport athlete at Quincy High, Russell was hired as Ohlone's interim coach in July after serving as Twohig's assistant last season.

Russell, who says he shares his longtime friend Twohig's "blue-collar approach," entered the 2011 season like a painter pondering a blank canvas.

"A completely different team starts in the fall," Russell said. "You can't put pressure on yourself with regards to last year. You have to have your own identity."

The young Renegades entered the week 6-7 overall and 1-1 in the Coast Conference Pacific Division, having endured a series of cliffhangers. Twelve of Ohlone's 13 games have been decided by two runs or less, including eight by one run.

Ohlone opened the season with a 1-5 mark as players were pressing, trying to live up to the previous team's accomplishments.

"Instead of being the 2010 state champs we were working on being the 2011 Ohlone Renegades," Russell said.

Ohlone followed the shaky start with four straight one-run wins.

The Renegades have a solid team ERA of 2.86. Sophomores Matt Fontaine out of Tracy High and George Asmus (Foothill) lead the pitching staff. Redshirt freshman Ryan Tella (Irvington) is a standout center fielder batting .460.

Freshman Matt Owen (Foothill) is the leadoff hitter and "a scrappy little guy," Russell said.

Russell and Twohig, known for his gung-ho approach to all aspects of Ohlone's program, were baseball teammates at Feather River College in Quincy.

Twohig brought Russell in from the University of Hawaii to work with the Ohlone infielders and assist the offense. Russell played and served as a volunteer staff coach at Hawaii, after starring at Feather River as a two-time all-Golden Valley Conference player who started in 84 consecutive games.

Russell made an immediate impact at Ohlone. As a group, the infielders had the second-best fielding percentage in the state (.972).

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