June 2, 2010
Fans of Raider baseball always looking for right karma
By TOM WILLIAMS
Two good things happen when Connor Ortolf pitches for Ocean City High School.
First, he usually wins. He has a 7-2 record this year, including three wins in the NJSIAA Group 3 Tournament.
Second, his father gets in his walking.
You see, when Connor Ortolf pitches, his father, Erik - former golf and football coach who is now the OCHS guidance director -
cannot sit still and watch. He paces all around the field, stopping to see each pitch before continuing his walk.
And he is not the only one.
Bob Reich, a Wall of Fame athlete and former coach at Oakcrest, pops up all around the field, looking for a spot that brings the
Raiders the most good luck.
John Huff, a three-sport athlete at OCHS and one of the area's top golfers, sits calmly and watches the game when his son is
playing shortstop. But when young John is pitching, his dad does his best imitation of Erik Ortolf.
Steve Longo, another former successful athlete and OCYAA official, doesn't walk around much. But he is always looking for the
right position, the spot with the best karma. Steve's son, Brian, is obviously superstitious. He wears a cap that looks like
it belongs on a relief pitcher, like he's been wearing it in every game since his sophomore year. And that is the way Brian
plays, down and dirty, doing whatever is necessary to make the play.
In last week's South Jersey championship game, remnants of Raider Nation were also on hand to add their support. Frank Unger
and Sean Bryce, who created the group along with Alex Wallace, a key member of this baseball team, were both there.
And Gary Hegh was also there. The veteran Mainland baseball coach said he was impressed with this OCHS team and he made the
trip to Blackwood because he enjoyed watching them play. When the Raider parents find out he was sitting in a deck chair behind
the backstop they will probably try to find him a ride to every remaining game to maintain the karma.
The 2010 Raiders include at least five seniors who will be playing sports in college. Ortolf (Lafayette) and Tyler Reich (Villanova)
will play baseball. Longo (St. Joseph's) will play soccer. Rob Zauck (New Hampshire) and Andy Fiorentino (Ursinus) will play
This team, the first from OCHS to win a South Jersey baseball championship on the field and the first to win and kind of South
Jersey title since 1946, is filled with intense competitors. They are focused on what happens on the field, encouraging their
teammates and trying to rattle their opponents in traditional baseball style. When things aren't going well, they dig deeper.
But when things aren't going well on the field, the parents in the stands go into action. They look for new positions that will
change the karma and the impact it is having on the game. When good things start to happen on the field, they hold their position.
Unless, of course, their son is pitching.
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