Brother Rice High baseball coach leading successful program and season

By: Edward Zilincik | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published May 29, 2018

 Birmingham Brother Rice’s Tito Flores takes a swing in a game earlier this season. The Warriors won the CHSL Central Division title and look to make a run in the postseason.

Birmingham Brother Rice’s Tito Flores takes a swing in a game earlier this season. The Warriors won the CHSL Central Division title and look to make a run in the postseason.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

BIRMINGHAM — The Birmingham Brother Rice baseball team is happy with its achievements so far this season.

At press time, the Warriors were 22-8 overall.

Led by Coach Bob Riker, the team won the regular season Catholic High School League Central Division championship this season, but fell in the league tournament to Warren De La Salle.

“Coming into the season, we had the goal to win Catholic League regular season title, which we accomplished,” said senior Mac Menard. “Our other goals were to win the Catholic League tournament, which we fell short of, and to win districts, which we are hoping to accomplish coming up.”  

The Warriors open the Division 1 tournament with Birmingham Seaholm at noon June 2 at Birmingham Groves.

Riker and his players have a great feeling going into the postseason.

“But the entire team and I understand that this tournament, it’s win or you’re done,” said Riker. “It’s like March Madness, once you lose, there are no more practices, no more games.”

Riker took over as the program’s fifth varsity coach in 1998. Once a player for the Warriors, Riker has helped to continue a successful tradition.

Riker led the Warriors to a state title in 2008. He additionally led the program to two other championship appearances, where they fell short in 2003 and 2013.

The coach was also instrumental in helping to get the program a new facility to play at, located in Troy, which opened in 2013.

Riker cares about his former players, as he was watching a few of them play in the Big Ten tournament before a practice. He’s even more excited for the opportunities his current players have after their high school careers are over.

Three current players are committed to playing baseball at Michigan State University next season.

“I try to keep the players grounded, not too high or too low, because that’s the way baseball is as a sport,” said Riker. “Some guys get caught up in trying to hard if they’re not playing, because they want to get a scholarship; we just want to make sure the entire team is having fun no matter, because if we have fun, we’re successful.”

The current team is a veteran-leaden squad, featuring eight seniors.     

“To me, out of all the things that we do on the field, the best aspect of this team is the leadership I’ve seen from senior leaders,” Riker said.

Riker feels the team exceeds in every on-field aspect of the game, but has been particularly impressed with the team’s offensive prowess this season.

“We’ve got good pitching, hitting, and we definitely swing the bats well,” said Riker. “If we could improve in one area, it would be our pitching, specifically our strike throwing; we’ve got to throw more strikes and be more consistent.”

Senior Jack Brockhaus likes the way the team is going right now and is hopeful going into districts.

“We played Seaholm once this year. They’re a good team and scrappy,” said Brockhaus. “We like our chances, but know we’re going to have to work hard.”

The players also agree with their coach that the team is close.

“We have good senior leaders and get along well with the younger players,” said senior J.D. Allen. “I agree with coach, though, that if we want to go far, we need to throw strikes consistently.”