ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio baseball program has added Ryne Romick as a volunteer assistant coach and Andrew Stepp as director of operations, as announced by sixth-year head coach Rob Smith on Wednesday (Sept. 20).
"We're very lucky to have Ryne," said Smith. "He's had three years of Division I experience as the pitching coach at Dayton, so he comes in kind of in a unique situatiion unlike what your typical coach would be in that scenario. We're very lucky to have him and excited to add him to the staff. As for Andrew, a guy in his positon helps us in some many ways as far as administratively with the team. He certainly helps me a lot with the day-to-day operations of the program, so his contributions are certainly going to be very helpful in the program and allowing us to function at a high level."
Romick spent the last three seasons as the pitching coach at Dayton, where helped the Flyers post the program's best numbers in earned run average, walks and batting average against since 2011. He joined Dayton after a two-year stint at Denison, where he was the top assistant and volunteer prior to that. With the Big Red, he helped the team to the North Coast Athletic Conference West Division title in back to back seasons. In his first year at Denison, Romick led a talented pitching staff that had the second-best ERA in the league with a 3.63 team ERA -- a two-run drop from the year before. The Big Red were also amongst the conference leaders in ERA, strikeouts, and opponents' batting average. Romick went into coaching after a standout career at Akron from 2006-09. In his sophomore campaign, he anchored the bullpen with 22 appearances, 29 strikeouts, and four saves in 34 innings of work. He continued that success in his junior season with 23 strikeouts in 29 innings. Romick capped off his career by earning Akron's Pitcher of the Year honors after giving up just 21 hits in 28 1/3 innings on the mound. He led the team with a 3.45 ERA while adding three saves and a .208 opponent batting average. Romick received his bachelor of science degree in biology from Akron before completing his master's of education from Ohio Valley in West Virginia. As a graduate assistant with OVU, he helped the pitching staff drop its ERA by two-plus runs in his two years with the program. A native of Hannibal, Ohio, Romick played his high school ball at River High School, earning All-Ohio honors in baseball and basketball.
"I'm very excited for the opportunity to join a great staff and championship caliber program that Coach Smith has built here at Ohio," said Romick I want to thank Coach Smith for the opportunity and I look forward to continuing the development of a top notch pitching staff."
Stepp spent the previous year as head coach at Walnut Grove High School in Missouri, leading the Tigers to a 17-6 record and a conference title. He spent five years coaching the Midwest Nationals based out of Springfield, Mo. Stepp played collegiately at Western Kentucky as a middle infielder and graduated with a bachelor's degree in physical education. He spent two seasons as the student assistant coach for the Hilltoppers, serving as bullpen coordinator and helping coach hitters and infielders. The Nixa, Missouri native is married to the former Lauren Moats.
"I am very excited and honored to be a part of the Ohio baseball program," said Stepp. "The culture set into place here is very special, and I am excited to help contribute to it. I am very thankful to Coach Smith and the university for the opportunity to be a part of a such a great program."
The Bobcats are coming off of a 2017 campaign in which they finished with 31 wins -- including 11 in Mid-American Conference play, which placed Ohio fifth in the overall league standings. Under the direction of Smith, No. 5-seeded Ohio capped an improbable league postseason run by defeating No. 3-seeded Eastern Michigan, 7-4, to clinch the 2017 MAC Championship title on May 28 at Sprenger Stadium in Avon, Ohio. Ohio earned its third MAC tournament title (1997, 2015, '17) with the victory. The Bobcats opened 2017 MAC Championship play by beating No. 4-seeded Ball State, 4-3, on May 24. Ohio then advanced to the winner's bracket final thanks to a late-night 5-3 win over No. 1-seeded Kent State the following day. The Bobcats eliminated the Golden Flashes with a 7-2 victory on May 27, marking the fourth time in five tries Ohio emerged victorious over MAC regular season champion Kent State in 2017. After missing the national postseason tournament 17 years in a row, Ohio punched its second NCAA Regional ticket in the last three years as the MAC's automatic bid with the victory over Eastern Michigan, advancing to the 2017 NCAA Championship Lexington Regional. The No. 4 regionally-seeded Bobcats fell to No. 1 regionally-seeded Kentucky, 6-4, on June 4, then dropped an 11-2 decision to No. 2 regionally-seeded Indiana the following day.
Smith has led Ohio to two MAC tournament titles and two NCAA Championship appearances over the the last three years. Ohio had made just two NCAA tournament appearance in the 43 seasons prior to the 2015 campaign.
Among the returners from last year's championship team are a pair of 2017 First Team All-MAC selections in redshirt senior infielder/right-handed pitcher Michael Klein (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) and redshirt senior right-handed pitcher Jake Roehn (Sandwich, Ill.) and a MAC All-Defensive Team selection in junior infielder Rudy Rott (Holmen, Wis.).