Geneva's Hejduk, Saint John's Rodriguez share county COY honor

Jun. 8—When you have a couple of guys that have a passion for baseball as well as a passion for their alma maters, chances are good things are going to happen.

Geneva's Terry Hejduk and Saint John's Alvin Rodriguez have both seen good things happen for a couple of years now.

Coincidentally, both have been named as Ashtabula County Baseball Coaches of the Year for the 2024 season, as voted on by the county coaches.

The Eagles went 15-7 this season, finished second in the Chagrin Valley Conference Lake Division, and advanced to Division II district final at Louisville.

Geneva fell to West Branch, which will playing for the state championship on Sunday, 9-1 to end the season. WB is playing for the D-II state title on Sunday.

Saint John went 16-6, 9-0 in the Northeastern Athletic Conference for first place.

They also advanced to the D-IV district final at Tri-C West, falling to Hillsdale 16-1 in five innings. Hillsdale is playing in a state semifinal game today at Canal Park in Akron.

Rodriguez, who was a member of some great Saint John teams in the early 2000s, has been focused on re-creating the culture and tradition that the program was known for. He said that he has not been able to do that without the help of many talented players and some great assistant coaches.

"I lean on my assistant coaches, Dave Rozzo, Jon Timonere, and John Bartone as much as anyone," Rodriguez said. "This is a huge thing for them, too. We're baseball guys, but we're team guys.

"They bought into that and have preached it and the team has to. We always want to be greater than the sum of our parts and we have some really great parts. I'm happy for our success, but we're nowhere near satisfied. We still have work to do."

At Geneva, Hejduk has been involved with coaching youth baseball for years. He returned to Geneva last season and instantly instilled the kind of aggressive, high energy style of play that he's passionate about.

The success Hejduk had, though, he said didn't have as much to do with baseball as it did understanding how to work with people.

"Guys will lay it on the line for you if they know you believe in them and you have their best interest at heart," Hejduk said. "That's my philosophy ... we're a family."

Hejduk went on to praise Rodriguez and the other county coaches for the selection.

"It is such an honor," he said. "Coach Rodriguez is a great coach and they have a super thing going over there. I'm super honored to share the award with him."