GREENVILLE — Legendary Tippecanoe baseball coach Bruce Cahill couldn’t imagine his life without the game of baseball.
And understandably so.
“My dad was a teacher and a coach,” Cahill said. “So, I have probably been around baseball since I was two years old.”
Cahill is now approaching 1,000 games coached at Tippecanoe in his 35 years leading the Red Devils program.
After picking up his 700th win Wednesday against Piqua, he had a quick comeback to one of the Tipp fans who asked him about going for 800.
“I told them I just wanted to get 701,” he said with a laugh.
As you might expect, that didn’t take long.
The Red Devils knocked off Greenville 7-2 Friday to improve his record to 701-293.
Just like it didn’t take long for him to know he was going to follow his love of baseball throughout his life.
After a successful career playing at Troy High School, Cahill walked on at Miami University.
“I thought I was a pretty good player (at Troy), Cahill said. “I didn’t play at Miami, but I learned so much there. They had some great players like Billy Doran and Charlie Leibrandt (who both went on to play for the Reds) there. My time at Miami was a great experience.”
Cahill would tell you he was fortunate to to land a teaching and coaching job at Tippecanoe High School — the community and his many former players will tell you, they are the lucky ones.
“I knew I wanted to coach and teach,” Cahill said. “So, I was just glad it worked out the way it didn’t.”
During his time at Tippecanoe, the Red Devils have won 20 conference titles, 16 sectional titles, eight district titles and 65 of his players have gone on to play at the college level — with four being selected in the MLB Draft.
“We have had some good teams and good players,” Cahill said. “The community is a big part of it. It doesn’t matter the sport, there are not many bad seasons at Tipp. I guess the relationships with the players is the big thing.”
Cahill is just the 11th coach to reach 700 wins in Ohio.
With all his success, Cahill sees a team that has a long way to go despite a 9-0 start — not that he is complaining.
“I could have gotten 700 last year (if the season hadn’t been cancelled),” he said with a smile. “We do some things well, but there are things we have to work on. Just like some of the mistakes tonight. A lot of these guys just needed one more year of JV baseball (which they would have gotten last year). Jonny Baileys and Matt Salmon have been solid. I am trying to bring some of the other guys along.”
In Friday’s win, Baileys shined brightly.
He struck out Greenville’s first four batters and five of the first six. He finished with 13 strikeouts with just one walk and allowed just two hits, both in the fifth inning.
Baileys also scored on a double steal in the three-run third inning.
“Jonny (Baileys) was the bright spot,” Cahill said. “His curve ball — he really hasn’t thrown it that much and tonight it was spot-on all night. We thought it would be between Johnny and Troy Taylor who would be our number 2 (pitcher). I think Jonny changed our minds tonight.”
Baileys said having his full arsenal of pitches was key.
“It makes a difference when you can throw all your pitches,” he said. “Every pitch was a strike. And the defense played well behind me.”
Tipp made the most of nine hits.
In the second, Jake Smith scored on a wild pitch after reaching on a fielder’s choice.
In the third, Brayden Bottles had double and Baileys singled him in, before Baileys and Salmon executed a double steal and Salmon would come around to score on a wild pitch.
Baileys had a bases-loaded walk to score one run in the fourth and Salmon had a two-run single in the sixth inning to cap the scoring.
“I am not sure we hit a ball hard all night,” Cahill said. “I prefer being 9-0 to the alternative, but we have a lot of strong teams the rest of the way. I am trying to make the kids understand we have to get better.”
Baileys understands that.
“We have been in a slump hitting, but I think we will come out of that,” he said. “The thing I like about this team is we have great chemistry. And I think that will carry us through the tough times.”
That and one of the most successful coaches in state history — who has been around the game almost since birth.