After the firing of their ninth-year head coach Troy Buckley, the Dirtbags are in a tumultuous time. The daunting task of righting the ship has fallen to two coaches already in the organization: associate head coach Greg Bergeron and pitching coach Dan Ricabal.
“I am extremely confident in their abilities,” athletic director Andy Fee said in a statement.
The two coaches got off to a promising start. Their first game as co-interim head coaches Friday was a walk-off win for the Dirtbags’ and first conference victory all season.
“The crowd was big [Friday],” Bergeron said. “It’s like how it used to be and how it should be.”
Still, the crucial question of what kind of coaches Bergeron and Ricabal will be and what their dynamic will be at the helm has been unanswered since the firing of Buckley.
Bergeron has held offensive coaching responsibilities since the mid ‘90s and has been in charge of the Dirtbags offense for the past four seasons. Ricabal spent six years as a pitching coach in the Los Angeles Angels organization in addition to his collegiate time in the same capacity. The coaches said their opposite backgrounds will counterbalance each other.
“It’s [been] the same voice saying the same things about the same mistakes that we’ve been making,” Ricabal said. “Now we have an opportunity to work together.”
Bergeron has brought success wherever he coaches in the Big West. He led an offensively powered Cal State Fullerton team to an appearance in the College World Series in 2009. He helped UC Irvine to its first College World Series appearance in 2007 while running its offense.
Aside from his three years in Long Beach, Ricabal has also coached in the Big West with CSUF and UCSB. His time with the Angels gives him a professional perspective that can help raise the standards of the Dirtbags’ pitching staff.
“I appreciate Coach Bergeron and Coach Ricabal for their leadership,” Fee said in a statement.
Both coaches know running a team requires more than managing pitching and hitting. There are egos to control among other intangibles that head coaches are uniquely familiar with.
“We’re in new positions. [The team] is in uncharted waters, so it’s new for everybody,” Bergeron said.
Neither Bergeron nor Ricabal have served as head coach of a Division I program. The result of their first foray into that territory will be reflected off the Big West diamonds.