Local residents Rigo Ramos, who graduated from Archbold in 2019, and Connar Penrod, a soon-to-be senior at Wauseon, were both similarly affected by the announcement earlier this month that Bowling Green State University would be discontinuing its baseball program.
The decision was made to limit financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both pitchers, Ramos, who was in the middle of his first season in the program and Penrod, who would be starting at BGSU following his graduation from Wauseon in 2021, had almost identical reactions when the news came out.
Ramos said he and the team learned of the news on a Zoom call with Bowling Green athletic director Bob Moosbrugger.
“We all entered the meeting and right away you saw a gloom look on his (the athletic director’s) face,” explained Ramos. “And you knew he was about to deliver some bad news. The first thing he said was “gentlemen I’m so sorry.” Once he broke it to us, it was just like ‘OK, well what now?’ It was definitely shocking at first because it came out of nowhere.”
Upon being told by Moosbrugger, Ramos could not shake the life-altering news from his mind, he said.
Penrod found out a different way. He saw the word spreading on Twitter, and then eventually, what were to be his future coaches confirmed the news to him.
“At first I guess it was disbelief, because I was like ‘no way, they’re not eliminating the program; that program’s been there forever,’” he said. “Then eventually, I started looking, and the people who tweeted it were reliable.
“That was my future. I had my whole future planned around playing baseball at Bowling Green. Getting a degree from the university…and now I gotta look elsewhere. And change my future plans.”
Penrod said when the BGSU coaching staff did make contact, they expressed to him how deeply sorry they were and that they did not see it coming.
“They just said that they would be resources for me going forward — trying to help me find a university to play at. And just basically expressed how sorry they were that this all happened,” said Penrod.
After the announcement came down, BGSU baseball alumni rallied together and have begun a fundraising effort in an attempt to save the program.
Therefore, Penrod will hold off — for now — on committing to another program. “If BG baseball’s a thing, I’m playing baseball at Bowling Green,” he said. “I don’t want to play anywhere else.”
So he has not officially reopened his recruitment, holding out hope the program isn’t dead yet.
As of right now, a few schools have followed him on Twitter — a proverbial sign they are interested. He has also received emails from potential future schools. Of note, officials from the University of Akron have made contact.
In light of the sudden change, he might also be rethinking his preferred sport at the college level. Some schools have contacted at the potential of him attending their school on a football scholarship.
“That’s absolutely a decision to be made,” said Penrod on whether he will stick with baseball. “Honestly, right now, I feel like baseball is a good possibility. But at the same time, I’ve got to get something like BG. I’ve got to get a coach like (Bowling Green pitching) coach (Kyle) Hallock that is genuinely fun to be around. The money offer’s got to be similar; it’s gotta be close to home.
“It’s all gonna depend what comes my way I guess.”
If he does ultimately pursue a baseball career in college, that destination will have to be one with a strong reputation — especially in regards to developing their players.
“The player development of the university and the coaches, and what they use to not only prepare their players to be successful in their conference and their division, but also maybe to even get their players ready for the level after college. Obviously scholarship offer, money, is always a factor,” Penrod said of criteria his next school must fit.
The bond with his coaches must also be similar to what he experienced from coach Hallock and others involved in his recruitment to BGSU.
“It’s just got to be a fun, friendly, welcoming environment,” said Penrod. “I don’t want to go do something that I’m gonna hate for four years just to pay for my school. I want to be welcome and I want to have fun playing baseball.”
Unlike Penrod, Ramos has officially entered the transfer portal and hopes to decide on a new school in the next couple of weeks. So he must forge new relationships rather quickly.
He has received looks from junior colleges, NAIA, Division II and III schools from all across the country. Division I interest has primarily come from schools within the Mid-American Conference and Horizon League.
Closeness to home will not factor as much into his decision as it did the first time around. “The most important thing for me right now is just finding a place that I know will feel like home and make me feel comfortable,” said Ramos. “But with this being so new, it’s gonna be really hard to find a place that felt like home like BG did.”
He wants to once again find that strong bond with his future coaches — like he also experienced with his position coach at BGSU.
“Just the program itself,” he said on what else he is looking for in a new school. “Can I relate to the coaching staff? Because I felt like my pitching coach at BG, coach Hallock, I thought he was one of my best friends. So I’ll have to adjust to the staff, and just the program in general.”
What exactly made the connection with Hallock so special? Well first off, he was “heavily” recruited to BG by him, which made Ramos’ initial college choice much easier.
“It wasn’t your basic college recruitment. Like, ‘hey we’d like to have you on the team.’ He felt like he wanted me on the team and he needed me on the team. He put a lot of faith in me,” explained Ramos.
“He really worked his butt off to not only just get me in BG, but once I got there, he took care of me.”
Ramos learned valuable information from Hallock he will certainly take with him.
“I think the biggest thing that I got out of my short freshman year, was the whole mental aspect of it,” he said. “My pitching coach, he taught me so much in so many ways. I learned a bunch of minor details about the game, how to handle it, and what to do in certain situations. So mentally, I feel like I can take that with me to any program I go to.”
Penrod, though still in high school, was able to gain intel from Hallock as well. As a result, he now knows what aspects of his game need improvement over the next year plus.
“Obviously always wanting to add velocity. I’ll always want to throw harder, harder, harder,” Penrod said. “But then, the things I’ve always talked (about), even with coach Hallock being a great resource — a great baseball mind. Some things that needed done were: my change-up needs sharpened up, and my curve ball needs sped up. So I’ve got to speed up my curve ball so it’s quicker and not just a lazy looper. And not as easy to pick up out of the hand. Then get more control, and maybe a little bit more action on my change-up.”
He currently throws bullpen sessions with his high school catcher Sam Krasula once or twice a week in an effort to refine his skills. That will continue into the summer.
Despite having to restart his college baseball career just one year into it, Ramos intends to have this experience serve as motivation.
This circumstance showed him you cannot take anything for granted.
“And I think that’s a lesson not only our BG baseball team learned, but like, the rest of the schools in the MAC and everyone else that heard the news about us,” he said. “They realize too that it’s such a crazy time that anything can happen. I know that wherever I get my second chance, I’ve got to go in there and I’ve got to work my tail off to show that I’m there to win and compete.”