After a whirlwind last few weeks, the Bowling Green State University baseball program has been brought back from the brink of elimination to full reinstatement, it was announced last Tuesday, June 2.
Behind an effort put forth by passionate alumni of the program and donors, $1.5 million was raised to fund the program over the next three years.
But that means two different things for a pair of Fulton County residents. Connar Penrod, a soon-to-be senior at Wauseon and BGSU baseball commit, reaffirmed his commitment following the announcement.
“Absolutely it is,” said Penrod when asked if his plan was to stay committed following the program’s reinstatement. “I’ve already been talking to (BGSU) coach (Kyle) Hallock the last couple days, making sure everything’s the way it was before the COVID stuff.
“I am committed to BG again.”
Rigo Ramos, an Archbold alum who recently completed his freshman season at BGSU — one cut short due to the coronavirus — is still figuring out his future plans.
“Obviously, BGSU has a very special place in my heart. I made so many good memories and I learned so much in my first year there — even though it was shortened,” said the lefty pitcher. “Entering the transfer portal is a very stressful process and I don’t want to have to do it again. Even though BG, the baseball program is reinstated, I want to make sure that while I’m in the portal I’m still making the best decision for me and my family.”
Ramos already had it set in his mind that his time in BG was done, and began forging relationships with coaches at other schools. The two top bidders for his services — outside of BGSU — are fellow Mid American Conference schools, the University of Toledo and Ohio University.
“Those are two schools that, had BG been eliminated, would be at the top of my interests,” Ramos said. “And I think they both are still interested in what I have to offer their program. At this point now that BG is back, I’m kind of waiting to hear what they have to offer me before I make a decision.”
While Ohio is the more established program, Toledo is one on the rise and that also intrigues Ramos. He can envision himself playing a role in their rebuild.
“With Toledo being on the bottom half of the conference, I feel like they are looking to change that culture,” he said. “That’s something I can buy into. Wanting to turn a program around; being part of that change.”
In light of new connections made with coaches at both UT and OU, it is not a foregone conclusion Ramos returns to BG.
He hopes to reach a final decision by the end of this week.
“A lot of people are not stressed out anymore knowing that BG is back and they have a home. For me, I think it kind of adds a little bit of stress, honestly,” said Ramos. “I kind of got that through my head that BG was eliminated and I was getting ready to move on. I’m more than happy that they’re back.
“It’s like I’m in high school again, having to make that big decision,” he added. “That’s kind of where I’m at right now. I think I had some stuff narrowed down, but, now it’s like I’m back to that high school recruiting process where I got to make another tough decision. Because I’m looking for a place to call home for my four years of eligibility that I have remaining.”
One potential factor aiding BG in their attempt to retain Ramos, his position coach Kyle Hallock was recently elevated to interim head coach. He replaces Danny Schmitz who has led the program the last 30 years.
Their relationship gives BGSU a fighting chance.
“If he (Hallock) wasn’t in BG, and if I didn’t have the connection that I have with him, I might have already committed elsewhere,” explained Ramos. “Even before they reinstated the program. I love BG and everything, but all the drama that’s occurred over the past two weeks, it takes a toll on you mentally. Makes you question some things. Kind of breaks your heart knowing that, originally, we got cut and eliminated with no second thought.
“I think the fact that I have such a good connection with him, you know, we kind of invest in each other. I think that’s a pretty important factor in my decision.”
Hallock reached out to both Penrod and Ramos to get them back in the fold. On the evening of June 2, when the news broke the program was being reinstated, he called up Penrod.
“He asked if I was ‘ready to rock’? I said, ‘of course I’m ready to rock!,’” said Penrod of the conversation with his future coach.
“He just wanted to make sure that I was still committed and I was still ready to go.”
The call was not one that came unexpectedly, as the two have been known to converse religiously since the beginning of Penrod’s recruitment. He estimates they at least have some form of communication once every two days.
“I really like him,” Penrod said of Hallock. “He makes you feel wanted. So to continue with him — a baseball mind, MAC Player of the Year, drafted three times — I’m so excited to go get to play for a guy of his caliber. Not just as a baseball mind, but as a person.
“No matter what, I wouldn’t put my future, my baseball career in anybody else’s hands.”
In general, Penrod is just happy to put this behind him.
“It was such a relief,” he said of his reaction to the news. “Because, like, I didn’t have to look anymore. I’m playing baseball now (in college); I know it.
“I like to have my stuff in the future planned. So everything’s planned out again. I don’t have to worry about it or think about anything else. It was great news.”
The fact the program was only approved for the next three years does not bother him, because it’s something that is out of his control. Should the program be eliminated again when the three years is up, he will look elsewhere at that time.
However, until then, Penrod is proud to be a Falcon.
The three-year approval does enter Ramos’ train of thought, as he dreads having to go through the transfer process a second time. But, his coaches at BGSU assured him, things are likely to go back to normal when the three years is up.
So his final decision will depend more on which program he determines is the best fit moving forward.