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Knoch grad going strong as La Roche baseball coach

| Sunday, June 1, 2014, 10:20 p.m.
Team players rallied to get Chase Rowe to be the head coach at La Roche College.
Team players rallied to get Chase Rowe to be the head coach at La Roche College.

Former baseball standout Chase Rowe was a curious 22-year-old when he graduated from Slippery Rock University and completed a stellar three-year playing career there.

He had an inkling that he might want to coach, and latched on with La Roche College as an assistant in 2005 under former head coach Rich Pasquale.

Then an unexpected door opened for the Knoch graduate.

When Pasquale decided to pursue a coaching job at SRU, it was behind a rally from the players that Rowe became the next head coach.

“I think that our athletic director likes to give younger people an opportunity,” Rowe said. “When Rich Pasquale was leaving to take a job somewhere else, the players went to the AD and said they wanted me, and he was nice enough to give me the opportunity.”

Rowe has built the Redhawks into a winner. This season, they finished with a school-record 31 wins — against only five losses — and played in the NCAA Division III Tournament for the second time in three years. In 2012, Rowe guided La Roche to the school's only NCAA Tournament win in any sport.

“At the time, you don't know what's going on,” Rowe said of the 2012 tournament. “It's exciting for the program because it's the first time we went there. It's definitely a building block for us.”

Rowe, who is 195-135 as coach, picked up some individual hardware this season when he was named Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year.

A star shortstop at Knoch, Rowe played a year at Gulf Coast Community College before three strong years at Slippery Rock, including a 43-win season in which the team reached the Division II World Series.

That team had impressive numbers. So did La Roche. The Redhawks led the nation in slugging percentage (.509) and triples (34). They put together a 15-game winning streak.

“We are just talented,” Rowe said. “We have a lot of players, and a lot of depth. There's a good degree of quality athletes like good pitching and good hitters.”

With the bar raised, Rowe has high expectations moving forward.

“It should be the same thing,” Rowe said. “That's what I'm trying to build here is tradition. I came from a great baseball program at SRU and a great coach who I learned a lot from.”

D.J. Vasil is a freelance writer.

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