07/23/09 — Kruse joins Trojans' staff

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Kruse joins Trojans' staff

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on July 23, 2009 1:50 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Finding enough to keep himself busy between now and the start of the 2010 season won't be a problem for new Mount Olive College pitching Matt Kruse.

Before coming to Mount Olive, Kruse served as the pitching coach at Western Oklahoma State College. During his two-year tenure, WOS compiled a 105-24 record and made back-to-back appearances in the NJCAA World Series.

Western also produced three pitchers who were selected in the Major League Draft and three others who signed with NCAA Division I schools during that stretch.

Kruse worked three seasons as the pitching coach at Bellevue (Neb.) University. He's guided the Switzerland national baseball team and scouted for the Baltimore Orioles.

"I've been fortunate that I've had good players that have allowed me to end my year in the World Series the last four years," said Kruse. "That's the expectation that I'm coming here with is nothing less. Conference championships and regional championships are what we're supposed to do here."

Kruse's philosophy as a pitching coach involves aggressiveness on the mound and the ability to mix a number of different pitches.

"I like guys to go out there and pitch aggressively, and I like to dominate games," said Kruse. "You look for a guy with the best breaking ball you can find and a guy that has the best velocity you can find. Having those secondary pitches is what wins at the college level and we're going to try to go out and find guys that have that."

The opportunity to join a program known for success on the national level and learn from Trojans head coach Carl Lancaster lured Kruse to MOC.

"Everything was right," he said. "I had been looking for an opportunity to come to North Carolina. The success of the program, Carl's reputation and everything it was just a great fit. I feel fortunate."

Kruse inherits a Mount Olive pitching staff that compiled an ERA of 4.57 last season. Gone are starters B.J. Dail, Ryan Kussmaul, Patrick Ball and relievers Paul Novicki and Craig Beasley.

Dail, Kussmaul and Ball combined to go 15-6 in 2009 while pitching 154 2/3 innings. The Trojans don't return a pitcher who tossed more than 35 innings last season.

Returning seniors Kyle Jones and David Travis each pitched over 30 innings in the spring and should be key components to Mount Olive's pitching staff in 2010.

Blazing the recruiting trail and adding arms to a program built around pitching the last few seasons will be a priority for Lancaster and his staff this fall.

"Right now our pitching staff is a huge concern," said Lancaster. "Matt is going to have to earn his keep this year. He's out there beating the bushes trying to secure a few more arms. We've always believed that it starts on the mound.

"Our pitching staff has been the strength of our program the last few years."