Duke-bound Ryan Deitrich hopes for more success with Pittsfield Suns
PITTSFIELD -- It's been a pretty eventful year for Ryan Deitrich.
As the best player on the University of Pennsylvania baseball team, the Pittsfield Suns outfielder was an All-Ivy League performer. The Suns' top power hitter in 2012, Deitrich is looking to repeat that -- at least until the end of the month.
That's because the Penn graduate will leave the Suns after the July 4 game to begin masters degree classes and to prepare for another college baseball season at Duke University.
"It's unbelievable," said Deitrich, who grew up in Collegeville, Pa., outside of Philadelphia. "I get to go south. I've never really been outside of Philadelphia, so it's nice to start a new chapter of my life.
"There were three seniors on my team at Penn. To know that two of my best friends are out in the working world already -- it's kind of fun to know that I have another year of baseball left, and kind of put off the real world for another year."
Deitrich, who earned his diploma from Penn last month, is taking advantage of a recently-implemented NCAA rule that has allowed transfer students with remaining varsity eligibility to suit up right away instead of having to sit out a year.
An injury in Deitrich's freshman year gave the outfielder a medical redshirt and that extra year of eligibility.
Under NCAA rules, if an athlete graduates with eligibility remaining, he or she can transfer to another school to work on another degree. That's what Deitrich is doing.
"Coming into the fall of my senior year, I started looking at my options outside of [staying at Penn]," he said. "I called my high school coach, who put me in contact with Duke."
Gary Tesch played the outfield with Deitrich at Penn, and is not only Deitrich's teammate with the Suns, but they share the same host family.
Tesch, a freshman from Houston, looks up to Deitrich, and will miss him when he has to report to Duke.
"Obviously, we're going to miss him [at Penn]. I will, because he was kind of, I guess, my mentor a little bit," said Tesch. "I learned a lot from him. I'm going to miss him, but it's fun playing with him this summer. I'm glad I have the opportunity before he goes away to Duke."
Deitrich led the Ivy League with a .382 batting average and finished three full seasons with a .347 career batting average. That earned him first-team All-Ivy and Big 5 player of the year honors.
"He was like the spark to our offense when we needed it," said Tesch. "He's the only one that consistently hit all year."
The Big 5 is an unofficial conference in Philadelphia involving Penn, Villanova of the Big East, along with Temple, Saint Joseph's and LaSalle of the Atlantic 10.
"It's kind of funny, getting the Big 5 player of the year award, because I thrive off of Big 5 games," he said. "Probably my best games were against Big 5 teams. In the Ivy League, my numbers weren't as high as my out-of-conference numbers."
Deitrich hit .279 last summer with the Suns. He led the team with eight home runs and had 35 runs batted in. He was among the league leaders in homers and RBI.
"I had a pretty decent summer. It definitely gave me the confidence I needed to go into my senior year at Penn to be the guy," he said. "We only had three seniors, so it was important for me to have the confidence to lead the team and do what I could do on the field."
Deitrich will be entering a one-year program to get his masters in Management Studies. If a good fall and spring on the diamond can help the Blue Devils in the ACC, putting that degree to work might wait a little longer.
"That's the plan all along, to put myself in a higher level of exposure," he said, "and play against better talent. We'll see where it goes from there."
To reach Howard Herman:
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On Twitter: @howardherman.
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